Retro Show – Do The Bustle!

Time for another trip in the Wayback machine to look at the 1981-83 Imperial, courtesy of my friend Jim Smith. He thoughtfully took pictures of brand new luxury cars back when Brougham was still in, the tops were padded and opera lamps were expected!

The 1981 Imperial was Lee Iacocca’s last try at the Continental Mark III formula: Long, low, sleek, with every available convenience, a long hood, a short deck, and Broughamed out to the gills.

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College Basketball Is Dead, Long Live College Basketball

Those of you who’ve been around here for a while might remember that I normally do an NCAA bracket competition around this time of the year. This year, I took one look at the bracket and said, “Eff that.” Not only did I not feel confident in any one team, I couldn’t even feel confident in selecting the top four teams. Make that eight. Actually, make that sixteen.

In the bracket that I did do for my annual “friends and family” competition, I was only able to correctly pick six of the final sixteen squads—and that includes Loyola Chicago, whom I actually picked to make the Sweet 16 on a hunch. Without them, I’d be batting about 31 percent. Three of my Final Four are already out, including my two finalists and eventual champ, North Carolina. Two #1 seeds are out before the Sweet 16 for only the third time ever. The South region’s four survivors are the 5, 7, 9, and 11 seeds—1-4 are gonzo. The “people’s bracket” in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge had Virginia as the overall winner, which would be fine except for the fact that they lost in the very first round by twenty points to something called a “UMBC,” becoming the first #1 seed to ever lose to a #16 seed.

So it’s not just that I suck at picking college basketball games, it’s that everybody sucks this year—the overall leader in ESPN’s bracket only has 560 of a possible 640. To get into the top 50 (out of about 20 million entries) you only need 520 points. What the hell is going on?

What’s going on is that the college game is forever and irrevocably damaged at its core. Depending on whom you ask, that’s either terrible, or wonderful.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen lower seeds disrupt the tournament, (Wichita State in 2013, Butler in 2010 and 2011, VCU in 2010, George Mason in 2006, Loyola Marymount in 1990, even Villanova in 1985, etc.) but it’s the first time that the entire bracket appears to have gone haywire in this fashion. What’s causing it?

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It’s Important To Win, It’s Inconvenient To Not Lose

Nothing ever changes. This past Sunday, I lined up on the starting gate of the Dayton, Ohio indoor BMX track next to a fellow named Brian. Thirty-one and a half years ago, Brian was the hottest 14 Beginner at Phase IV BMX in Pataskala, Ohio, winning three races in a row and effortlessly dominating the two dozen or so kids who would show up on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings to challenge him. I was a whippet-thin, sullen-faced kid on a hastily-assembled bits-and-pieces special, strong and fast but perilously unbalanced. It took me through the long summer and into fall to finally beat him, which I managed to do maybe twice before I turned fifteen in November and he did not. I can still remember crouching over my Patterson Pro next to his Diamond Back Silver Streak, eyes forward, waiting for the lights and horn to sound.

Everything changes. Brian and I have children now — his four-year-old son who wants nothing to do with BMX, and my eight-year-old boy who after just a few weekends has internalized the rhythms and the statistics and the casually bloody heart of the sport. I quit riding in my early thirties and redesigned my life around the automobile; Brian stayed with it and just kept getting better, mastering that deft touch some people have that lets them soar into the air then place their wheels back on the ground with the delicacy of a Nureyev or Baryshnikov. He was at the race to win a thirty-six-inch trophy and further his standing as a top-ranked 45 Expert. I was there because of a fiction I created, one in which my son and I are just racing because I want to do it and therefore there is no pressure on him to win. In this fiction, which is a mirror image of reality, he is merely my fellow traveler in a BMX journey that I decided on a whim to reanimate after fourteen years without so much as a practice lap.

A few slots down from us on the gate was another old soldier, a man who had been both a champion pro rider and a homeless alcoholic, now returned to the sport with a young man’s fervor but with a body broken by years of substance abuse and indifferent medical care. Yet there were moments in practice where you could see him ride up the face of a jump, rear up and balance his brand-new DK Professional on its back tire, then lean it into the next turn like a MotoGP superstar at Suzuka. We had briefly met at the registration desk earlier in the day, chatted for a moment, then walked towards the paddock with the same sort of cripple’s limp, each of us secretly and cruelly hoping the other fellow had less cartilage in his knees.

“Everybody ready?” the starter asked, and we all nodded. Brian, the other fellow, and I nosed up to the gate and sat there balanced, both feet resting on pedals, eyes forward, hands tensing then relaxing on the handlebar grips. The first two of us to cross the line would go on to the main event. The third-place racer would go home. Alright riders, the electronic voice intoned, random start. Riders ready… watch the gate! Four lights, four horns, and three men going from zero to 130 revolutions per minute in the space of four hard shoves at the pedals.

Ah, but we can come back to this race later. It’s not the important one.

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Weekly Roundup: Own Goals Edition

Diversity is, truly, our strength. When I look at the Opinion page of the Huffington Post, I see a veritable Benetton advertisement’s worth of diverse people writing diverse articles with the following diverse titles:

  • Blessed Are The Religious Right, For Theirs Is The Presidency Of Trump
  • Why The Politics Of Hate Will NEVER Win (with photo of Trump)
  • Trump – ‘The Grand Experiment’ (Video) (Poetry & Politics)
  • I Persuaded My Parents To Dump Trump… I Think
  • Hillary Clinton — Why I Trust Her
  • The Moment This Republican Decided To Vote For Hillary

That accounts for half the front page; there are also three pieces that mention “luxury travel”. I can’t say that any of these articles were particularly engaging or well-written, but they were very much on-message, which is more important. Is this really the future of journalism? Diversity quotas for how somebody looks or “identifies”, while all of the content hews the same strident line?

Here at Riverside Green, we’ve published black people, white people, Jewish people, Asian people (what an odd catch-all for what is essentially two-thirds of the world population!), men, women, trans people, and teenagers. Never have we published anyone to meet a quota. We try to maintain a broad acquaintance of potential writers, both ideologically and DIVERSITY-wise. There are going to be months where you read this site and it’s all pretty much “white” men — meaning people who trace their ancestry to cultures as diverse as Eastern Europe, South Africa, and South America. Sorry about that. I suppose I should do more to embrace the bright future. I have a dream that my son will one day live in a nation where he will be judged not by the quality of his writing, but by his ability to fit into an approved victim-status group.

Alright, let’s see what your local chapter of the Literary KKK got up to this week.

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1964 Chevrolet Impala – She’s Real Fine!

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The Critics Respond, Or; Dr. Detroit Meets Dr. Delete

avatar Tom Klockau

This generation has been referred to as the “Glamour Birds” for some time. I reviewed a friend’s immaculate ’71 Landau last year. Not to be confused with the 1964-66, AKA the “Flair Birds.”

It’s too bad about what’s going on at the site I used to write for. What was a nice little community that just liked yakking about old cars is slipping away into a fiefdom. Hell, I’m not the only one who took a powder from there; we could start a club. Oh sure, if you agree with the big cheese, you’ll probably be fine, but heaven forbid you stray from the party line.

It was my own fault. I commented and should have known better…

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1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham – Maximum Broughamage

Options. It’s always nice to have options, especially when you’re talking Detroit luxury like Cadillac, Lincoln and Chrysler. Take Cadillac in the mid-1980s, for example. Between 1980 and 1986, Cadillac Motor Division went through some major changes. It arguably had to be done, but by 1986 most people used to Cadillacs being large, plush and heavily chromed were in for a surprise. Sure, they were still plush, but a crash diet program in anticipation of major gas price increases (that never happened) made for a very different showroom experience. Except for one holdout.

1986 Cadillac Fleetwood d’Elegance

The De Villes and Fleetwoods introduced as very early ’85 models were completely different from their ’84 iterations. Smaller, yes, but also more space efficient-and front wheel drive! Despite the huge change in design, they sold well.

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Made In The USA, Affordable (And Used) Edition: The $59 Wilberts, Two Years Later

Would you buy, and wear, a set of used shoes? I don’t think most people would, but there is a solid case to be made for certain used-shoe purchases. To begin with, it is often possible to get a nearly-new set of American-made dress shoes for half the price of Chinese department-store junk. Furthermore, if you pick the right shoe, you can get a pair of used shoes and a set of new shoes for 2/3rds of that shoe’s street price.

To demonstrate how this works, and to show you how to achieve footwear nirvana for the price of a two-top dinner and drinks at Applebee’s, I decided in January of 2016 to buy a set of used Allen-Edmonds off eBay and to see what happened next. My long-time readers know that I own close to a hundred pairs of dress shoes from A-E, Alden, Grenson, Crockett&Jones, Bruno Magli, Edward Green… with the exception of Ferragamo, Gucci, and TOD’S, I think I have an example of pretty much every high-end shoe out there. I don’t typically buy used shoes. As you will see, however, there was no penalty to my having done so, and over one hundred wearings later, I’m still feeling good about my purchase.

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1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville: Downsizing, Round Two

The 1980s were not precisely Cadillac’s decade. While in the 1960s Cadillac, the creme de la creme of General Motors, could do no wrong, in the 1980s it seemed they made misstep after misstep. True, changes had to be made. Fuel economy had to be improved, dimensions reduced, and technology added. But there is no doubt that the first half of the decade was exceedingly painful at Cadillac Motor Division.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville at the 2015 CLC Grand National, Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Cadillac could do no wrong in the ’50s and ’60s. They consistently outsold both Lincoln and Imperial and were essentially in a class of their own. But as the 1960s progressed into the early 1970s, they perhaps became a victim of their own success. The cars slowly became less special as Cadillac chased ever higher profits. Starting around 1969, Cadillac started skimping on interior materials.

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“…Because That Is According To My Principles”

I don’t think there was a single year in my academic experience where I was not significantly disciplined for some reason. Sometimes it was for playing elaborate pranks on people, sometimes it was for mocking the administration, and once it was for snap-kicking a fellow shop-class student in the chin after said fellow student tried to hit me with a home-made “bo staff”. (No, smart-asses of the Internet, I didn’t assume the “crane position” first. I wish I had, though!) Time after time, I was told that I would amount to nothing in this world unless I stopped being combative, argumentative, offensive, you name it. Maybe all those nuns, vice principals, and Residence Life administrators were right — but let the record show that they faded into obscurity while I rose to become the second most popular writer on my own website. (The first, of course, is Thomas Klockau.)

After fifteen and a half years of school (skipped two grades, took a leisurely 4.5 years to get my bachelor’s) I learned to sense in advance when I was about to be suspended or expelled, which is why my stomach churned in sympathetic anxiety when I read the above document. It tells a student that he will be subject to an uninterrupted harangue from his peers. In what world is that a reasonable way to treat a university student? And where would someone learn that kind of disciplinary tactic?

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