A reader sends this in, regarding the bizarre multi-million-dollar world of mattress-website referrals and their accompanying lawsuits. It certainly makes Electrek’s quarter-million or so in Tesla freebies and/or cash seem small potatoes indeed — and if anything could make the incestuous and thoroughly seedy world of automotive journalism look half-decent by contrast it would be a world where a couple that met on ChristianMingle can rate mattresses based on how good they are for sex. Check it out.
As we walked hurriedly through Ai Weiwei’s feel-good-psuedo-art beneath Washington Square Park’s famous arch, hustling towards the Uber driver in his Accord who was unconcernedly blocking traffic in at least two of the intersection’s three possible directions, John shook his hand free of mine and glared up at me.
“I didn’t even learn anything!” he snarled in that furious close-to-tears voice I’ve come to expect after everything from a lost game of dodgeball to a failed attempt at clearing a jump on his BMX bike. He’s not particularly sensitive to pain or physical effort but he anything he perceives as a loss or failure enrages him. “And you wasted five dollars of your money betting on me to win!”
“Well, John, I’m not sure that I agree with you about what we did and did not learn,” I replied, yanking the Accord’s door open and tossing him into the center seat before our driver could lose his courage and bolt from the scene, “and it’s not really my money, you know. You’ll inherit everything when I die, so that was really your five dollars, you know.” This was intended to add some humor to the situation but instead my son threw up his hands and yelled, “Why did you waste my five dollars, then! That’s even worse!”
Note: Four years ago, on October 14, 2013, I bought my first domestic car, after nearly twenty years of driving Volvos. This was originally published on the other site, but I thought it was time to move it over here, in a revised and expanded version! Four years, 40,000 miles added to the clock, and I’m still pretty happy with this car. I liked it enough that I now have two of them, so I guess it made an impression.
One of the things that slowly but surely happened when I started writing about old cars in late 2011 was that, despite being a car nut since I was approximately two years old, I finally started thinking about getting an old or at least older car of my own. Despite my love of 1977-79 Pontiac Bonnevilles (Dad had one) and 1990-92 Cadillac Broughams (no one had one, I just love them), the right car was apparently looking for me, and found me. One nice thing about acquiring an extra car I don’t need is that I have no wife or girlfriend to say, “oh no you don’t!” Hey, wait a minute. I don’t need spousal/significant other approval! I have the money. I can do whatever the hell I want! So I bought a 2000 Lincoln Town Car. Continue Reading →
The last time I bought a grownup-style road bike was in… whoa… way back in 2002, when I picked up a closeout Schwinn Super Sport SL. It served me faithfully for five years of frequent use, including several “centuries” and long-distance tours. Two years ago I refreshed it a bit and put a couple hundred more miles under the tires. There’s nothing wrong with the bike whatsoever.
Still, I’ve enjoyed my Lynskey Pro 29 so much that I thought I’d try switching to a flat-bar titanium road bike just for fun. So This is my Urbano, complete with King Cage Shot Glass bell in titanium to match the frame and bars. True to Lynskey form, it arrived two months late, right before the end of the Ohio outdoor touring season. Oh well. I’ll be able to look forward to some long rides in Spring. I might even try my luck at the TOSRV 205-miler come April.
Not that I’ve been riding any bike whatsoever lately. Between PCOTY testing and a couple of full-length features for another magazine I’ve been cranking flat out in the non-cycling sense…
One of the very best things about growing older (I turn 40 this month holy shit OMG OMG) is that one gains a bit of perspective.
When I was a child, the NFL was my obsession. I was a diehard Raiders fan, for no other reason than the Raiders were a particularly good team in the mid-80’s and Columbus, Ohio didn’t have an pro squad. I lived and died with each win and loss. I played John Madden and Joe Montana Football on the Sega Genesis with my best friend every day. I wore Raiders hats and Marcus Allen jerseys.
Of course, I then proceeded to grow up and stop worrying about the exploits of grown men who don’t know me, and I began to understand professional sports for what they are: entertainment. I still enjoy watching sports, but I view them the same way that many people view going to the movies—a nice way to kill a couple of hours with a healthy dose of escapism. It drives my friends and family crazy when they ask me who I’m rooting for and I say, “Nobody. I just like watching the games.”
It goes without saying that there are tens of millions of people who feel completely differently about professional sports, and, in particular, the National Football League. The NFL has dispatched all other pro sports with relative ease, thanks in no small part to fantasy games and betting, but also due to the physical nature of the game. Joe Sixpack feels a connection to NFL players—they work hard, just like he does. They go home dirty, bruised and bleeding, just like he does. And they love America, just like he does.
Whoops. Scratch that last bit.
When Colin Kaepernick, backup quarterback and the adopted son of two white parents, decided to protest police brutality against minorities by kneeling for the national anthem last season, I called him a troll. While statistics and data can always be cherry-picked to suit the needs of the editorialist, there is, at the very least, significant doubt about the validity of his point. Of course, the people who support #blacklivesmatter are nearly entirely the very same people who are saying that only police should have guns. I don’t get it either.
However, when a rather significant number of players began to join in the now-unemployed Kaepernick’s protest (which just proves that he’s unemployed because he’s a poor quarterback, and for no other reason), Donald Trump just couldn’t help himself—he had to comment.
It was the best of times, it was… well, it wasn’t the blurst of times, that’s for sure. I spent my weekend at Laguna Seca behind the wheel of Flyin’ Miata’s newest California-legal turbo ND MX-5, part of a five-driver team (me, Danger Girl, IndyCar standout Alex Lloyd, LeMons racer Zandr Milewski, and FM customer Richard “Rick Deckard” Dekker) that drove the car in every single session of the two-day “Miatas At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca” event. I’m pleased to report that the graphite-grey Miata ran flawlessly for fifteen hours at speed. The only problem we encountered was a clunking noise in the swaybar, likely caused by my habit of putting two wheels in the air every time I drive the Corkscrew and easily rectified during Sunday’s lunch break.
In addition to driving thirteen separate twenty-minute sessions in the turbo ND, I also drove a supercharged ND and the “Habu” Miata powered by a 525-horsepower LS3 V8. I’ll have some video up in the near future. As you can see from the above photo, Keith Tanner and the Flyin’ Miata crew planned everything to the last detail including the brake pad swaps — what you see above is what remained of padset #3 after I brought the car in from the last run of the weekend.
The cars were cool, and being in central California always fills me with a sort of wistful longing for the Spielberg-film childhood I’ll never have, but the true pleasure of the trip was having the chat to meet, and speak with, about two dozen of my readers. Every one of them had a unique and important story to tell me about themselves and their interactions with what I’ve written. Arriving as they did at the tail end of a year where I’ve spent far too much time feeling sorry for myself due to various injuries and professional disappointments, these single-serving discussions were both gratifying and inspiring.
Alright, let’s roll the tape from last week.
It’s not perfect. There’s some paint burning on the nose and tail, a couple of dings around the gas filler cap, and for some reason it was delivered with three Club wheels and a Grand Touring wheel, all of which were in lamentable condition. The transmission synchros have all taken a bit of a vacation and first gear is a journey rather than a destination. Still. 2014-model-year NC Clubs are virtually impossible to find and with just 4,600 miles on the odometer this one would have fetched the better part of twenty-three grand had we bought it from a dealer or private party.
We named it “Ava”, after Ava Gardner and in keeping with the same spirit that saw our MX-5 Cup race car named “Marilyn”. Ava spent a total of seventeen half-hour sessions at Summit Point Main this past weekend. Total wear: half a set of Hawk brake pads and maybe one-third of the tread depth on its BFG MX-5 Cup takeoff tires. We also had a lugnut snap, requiring a quick replacement of the left front hub, but that was probably just a consequence of a hasty wheel change while the rotors were still hot. The Blackbird Fabworx rollbar was the envy of every Miata pilot who saw it; like the Anniversary Rolex Submariner, the heavily-braced and perfectly-powdercoated Blackbird product commands a bizarre amount of respect and adulation when you see it for real.
Last week was a busy one, and it gave me the rare opportunity to write an absolutely classic TTAC piece from the old school.
It’s odd to consider, but it’s true: The Confederate States of America were conquered by the Union before the modern state of Germany was brought into existence. When Otto von Bismarck created the German political entity, my alma mater (Miami University in Oxford, Ohio) was already more than fifty years old. Of course, there had been various unified German tribes and regions since the time of Julius Caesar, but the German state that went to war in 1914 was a younger institution than the band Aerosmith is today.
Also odd to consider, and equally true: Germany in its current form won’t see a Bicentennial. Forty percent of five-year-olds in Germany have a “migrant background”. Ten percent of the country is African or Middle Eastern today, a figure that will more than double in the next ten years and then double again in the decade following. The new Germans are overwhelmingly young and male. It’s not a migration so much as it is an invasion by brute force, and one that will have longer-lasting consequences than William the Conqueror’s trip across the Channel. By the time my son is my age, Germany will be Islamic and any vestiges of its two-thousand-plus-year ethnic past will be of concern chiefly to the historians among us.
What killed Germany — or for that matter, Western Europe as a whole? There are many legitimate places to point a finger, from the adoption of pleasure-seeking atheism as a national religion to the pernicious influence of modern media. Still, I think the loss of more than eight million young men in the two World Wars had a lot to do with Germany’s eventual collapse. Those conflicts killed the best and bravest Germans, leaving the rear-echelon types to father the next generation.
The agenda-based and staggeringly ignorant modern curriculum likes to paint those Germans as goose-stepping Nazis, when in fact the average soldier of the Wehrmacht viewed the Party with the same distant indifference that a modern American solider might apply to Antifa or the Oathkeepers. They were not political. Instead, they were a fighting force with virtually no equal in ancient or modern history — a fact conveniently discarded nowadays, but one that should be remembered by all of us with German heritage.
I have a real love for the 1965-66 Rambler Ambassadors. Part of that may be due to my chance encounter with a metallic lilac ’65 sedan back in the ’90s (a story told once before; I’ll share it here on RG eventually) but the plain truth is I find them very clean and elegant. It was 1965, the Big Three were at the top of their game, BUT even little Wisconsin-based AMC fielded an attractive line. The arguably frumpy cars of the late Fifties were banished, and clean, smooth lines were in evidence throughout the line. The luxury Ambassador convertible was the top of the heap. And if you happened to have one in Woodside Light Green with a white top and green interior? Holy cow! I’m in.
Many years went by before I discovered the 1965 Ambassador and Classic were not all-new, as I had previously assumed, (blame over-the-top Sixties braggadocio and advertising) but were in fact heavily facelifted 1963-64 models. While it can be seen in the rooflines–particularly on the two-door hardtops (damn, how did I not notice that?!), the middle-tier Classic and upper-crust Ambassador both looked new, modern and attractive. I especially like the Ambassador’s stacked headlights and peaked fenders. Did the top-tier wonks in Kenosha know Cadillac was going for quad stacked headlamps in ’65, or was it just a happy coincidence? At any rate, they looked great.
I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the readers and friends who contributed to my participation in today’s Distinguished Gentlemen Ride. I appreciate your belief in the DGR’s mission and your personal support. It means a lot to me and it is humbling in ways that are difficult to convey in this format. I’ll be putting up photos from the ride as I get them, but for now you are invited to take a moment to mourn my Zegna Trofeo jacket which suffered serious and possibly terminal damage from being run at 90 miles per hour around Interstate 270 this morning. I’ll keep you posted on Trofeo’s convalescence and recuperation.
Seriously, however, the ride was a blast and it put me back in touch with a local fellow who builds some wicked vintage Triumphs. I’ll be visiting his secret stash and sharing it with you in the near future. For now, check out the contributions that Bark and I managed to get out the door last week.