Weekly Roundup: Nothing’s Sacred Edition

Four and a half years ago, my son and his mother went to the Heritage Guitar Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he took delivery of the above-pictured guitar, hand-made by former Gibson luminary and legend Marv Lamb. We have some great photos of John in the factory, pointing at various things and kind of cavorting around in the shop. In the years since, I’ve repeatedly turned down offers for the guitar, explaining that I would never sell something with that kind of sentimental value. When Marv had a stroke and stopped working a few years ago, it served to further strengthen my resolve on that point.

Earlier this week, I sold and shipped it to a friend in Florida. No regrets. I’ve been thinking a lot about sentimental value: what is genuinely valuable and what is merely sentimental. I’m putting the money I got for the guitar towards this year’s karting and cycling season. We’ll trade a few possessions for a few experiences. I hope John will forgive me for selling it — if he even cares. I suspect that he will not.

Speaking of things that I closed my eyes and sent into the big bad world this week, here are a few stories and articles for you.

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Weekly Roundup: I’m Having Some Trouble Coping Edition

Perhaps “having some trouble with the coping” is a better way to put it. I’d like to do more half-pipe and quarter-pipe stuff but I have trouble with my back wheel “hanging up” on re-entry. The last time I really “aired out” a big quarter-pipe was back in 2002 or thereabouts. I was on my Haro Nyquist x24 and I probably went 3-4 feet up on this ratty wooden ramp in Lancaster, Ohio. I completely hung up on the way down which led to me being ejected from the bike and falling six feet onto my ankle. That still hurts today. Maybe I should find somebody to coach me a little bit so I can release my inner Mike Dominguez.

I don’t think I’m having trouble coping. This has been a big week for personal growth. I’ve thrown away or donated hundreds of pieces of clothing. I’ve filled both of our 55-gallon trash cans — twice! And I’m in the process of selling a couple hundred items on eBay. Right now, my seller listing is just bike parts, but over the weekend I’ll be listing about twenty different pieces of auto-related memorabilia including some limited-edition Porsche and Land Rover clothing. Soon I’ll be putting up dozens and dozens of brochures and catalogs from as far back as 1996. If you want something specific, particularly when it comes to the German or British marques, let me know and I’ll start digging through my collection.

In addition to all of the above busywork and winter-time skatepark riding, I’ve also managed to get six articles out the door this week. Let’s take a look.

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Weekly Roundup: A House Is Not A Home Edition

About five years ago, a friend of mine took a job in West Virginia. I had my concerns about the job, to put it mildly. And when I saw the house she’d bought to go along with the job, I had serious concerns. It was “vintage”, you might say. And a “fixer-upper”, you also might say. The first night I spent there with her, I had to take a shower in the basement because that was the only place any of the fixtures worked. She said she was going to make it her own, do most of the work herself. I nodded my head but privately I thought she’d bitten off more than she could chew.

While I traveled the world and got in trouble and crashed cars and fell in love and fell out of love and won races and lost races and got so drunk I couldn’t stand and spent money I didn’t have and learned how to be a kinda-sorta father… she worked on the house. One little bit at a time, neat and tidy just like she was neat and tidy, precise just like she was precise. After the crash in January of 2014, she rushed to the hospital to see me. Told me that she had the answer to all of my problems, that she could save me from this catastrophic thing that I’d brought down on my own head. She told me that she’d chosen that job, and that house, so the two of us could be together for the rest of our lives. I didn’t know what to say. I told her to leave my hospital room and never come back. It was rash and after a few days we had some conversations. Hard, unpleasant conversations, full of things that couldn’t be taken back. I did it on purpose. I wanted to scare her away. I thought — no, scratch that, I knew — that she’d be better off without me. Then we said our goodbyes, because that was all we had left to say.

A few weeks ago someone told me that my old friend’s house was up for sale. He didn’t say why. Didn’t say if maybe she was moving in with someone, maybe getting married, maybe just changing jobs. I didn’t ask. Didn’t think I had the right to know. Eventually, I yielded to temptation. I took a look at the listing. I wanted to see how far she’d gotten with the place before making the decision to give up. To walk away.

It never occurred to me that the house would be empty in the photos that accompanied the listing. That she would already be gone. I don’t think I was prepared to see that. It made me think about how lonely she’d been in that house, made me think about how lonely most of us are. How sometimes you can’t say the things you need to say to someone when they are right in front of you. It feels like you’re both covered in gauze, maybe. Like you can’t quite get the words out. It’s that same helplessness that you feel in dreams, where you could solve the problem or save yourself if you could just get the words out. But you can’t open your mouth, can’t say anything at all. Then you wake up and you have this unpleasant cut-glass clarity about everything that was so gauzy, so fuzzy, just a moment before. All the answers are right in front of you. It’s just too late to do anything about it.

I miss her. It’s not that I wish that I’d gone to live with in her house. She really is better off without me. No matter what’s happened since the day we said goodbye. I believe that. I have to believe that, just to continue getting up in the morning. But I do wish that I’d made better use of the time we had together. And I wish that I’d loved her the way she wanted to be loved. The way she loved me. Not grand and dramatic and sweeping and overpowering. Not the kind of love that makes you risk your life or cut your wrists or abandon everything you’ve ever known for some romantic dream. Just the kind of love that makes you paint a wall. Or fix a bathroom. Or keep a space empty in your garage, in the hopes that someone will come to visit. Or hold on to a house that you can’t really afford, for just another month or another year, hoping that you’ll wake up one day next to someone who loves you, too.

Without further ado, let’s see what I managed to get out the door this week.

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Weekly Roundup: Ain’t Messin’ Around Edition

I said God damn. Tne Lincoln Continental is already about my favorite American car in a long time — and now they went and made a guitar amp out of it! Where do I sign up? Oh… looks like I can’t.

You might not have noticed, but Lincoln is working very hard to associate the new Continental with modern-traditional African-American musicians like Gary Clark Jr. and Jon Batiste. There’s a lot of Sixties-style photography and marketing going on. I think it’s brilliant. Let Cadillac reach out to the rappers; Lincoln is all about the cool. Gary Clark Jr. is a cool dude. And a bit of a player, too, even if the video doesn’t showcase his best work.

Speaking of players… let’s see what your favorite mediocre guitarist had up his sleeve this week, shall we?

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Weekly Roundup: You Should See The Other Guy Edition

About twelve hours after you are the not-at-fault party in a car crash, no matter how minor, you will start getting calls from attorneys, body shops, and “official accident centers” that just happen to be affiliated with a local chiropractor. About thirty-six hours after the fact, you’ll start getting mail from various interested parties.

Ten days after a cheerful harmonica player and recreational marijuana enthusiast bopped his Mazda2 into my Accord, I’ve yet to hear from Liberty Mutual, the insurance company of said fellow. Well, that’s the way of the free market, ain’t it?

This was a busy week for me in all respects. Click the jump for the six — count ’em! — articles that I published since coming home from Sebring on Monday night.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: My Way Or The… Okay, Just My Way Then Edition

I suppose it’s true that all Ohioans eventually become snowbirds. How else to explain the fact that I was at Road Atlanta last weekend and Sebring this weekend? Naturally, temperatures back in Powell have hovered around sixty-five degrees for the whole time I’ve been gone. They’re scheduled to drop back down into the cellar right around the time my plane has to land.

This was a brilliant weekend with a spectacular pair of cars from McLaren. Can’t wait to tell you all about it. In the meantime, here are a few things I wrote earlier:

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Didn’t We Almost Have It All Edition

Well, we could have won the race. Our MX-5 Cup car, “Marilyn”, wasn’t perfectly cooperative — we lost an axle seal on Thursday and the ABS block/pump went AWOL on Friday — but we took the lead in AER’s Class 1 on Saturday anyway. In the end, it was a combination of horrible pitstops and fuel miscalculations that did us in. Still, we finished 21st out of 43 racers, 6th in class. Then we discovered that the left rear shock had given up its seal. Marilyn uses Penske 8300 shocks, and we couldn’t get a replacement seal in time to start in Sunday.

All of our problems will be fixed by the AER race at Watkins Glen in April. The only question is: How much will it all cost? And what will go wrong next?

While I look at my five-figure credit-card balance and weep softly, the rest of you can read last week’s articles!

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Weekly Roundup: Because Your Kiss Is On My UL List Edition

We had a surprising amount of discussion last week about the Shinola x General Electric extension cords. One commenter noted that he didn’t see a “UL Listing” sticker anywhere. I took a quick look at the plugs and didn’t see anything about UL anywhere.Could it be that this $175 extension cord didn’t even have a basic safety rating, the way that hyper-expensive watches can’t be trusted to keep time as well as a Seiko?

Well, Danger Girl returned from a business trip with a smaller Shinola extension cord for me. This matches the Natuzzi recliner in my stereo room/writing room. And it had a very prominent UL listing sticker on the woven cord cover. I swapped my black five-plug extension out for this one, and sure enough, a closer inspection revealed a UL listing hologram near the wall-plug end of the cord.

Glad to have that mystery solved, I tell ya.

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Weekly Roundup: Maybe There Really Was A Reason Why I Used To Keep My Hair Short Edition

The last time I was riding skateparks with any frequency was in 2003. My hair was quarter-inch buzz-cut. After being repeatedly and unexpectedly blinded at “Skate Naked” on Friday night, I’m thinking that perhaps there was some logic to that choice.

Friday night was a big night for “progression” around our house. On his third trip to a park ever, John managed to “drop in” to the small bowl. He got within two feet or so of the coping on the middlin’ half-pipe you see above. And he did his first “roll-in” down a steep ramp to a pyramid box. As for Dad? Well, I wasn’t exactly pulling Matt-Hoffman-style air but I also didn’t injure myself. At 45, that’s success, right?

Click the jump for this week’s contributions and a statement on a recent controversy.

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Weekly Roundup: Back In The High Life Again Edition

Last weekend, I pushed myself just a bit too hard at Camp Woodward. Until Friday morning, I couldn’t put any kind of stress on my back without having the strong urge to vomit. The problem for me is that getting on a BMX bike immediately puts me back into a mindset where I don’t worry about how much something hurts, which is great when you’re a 15-year-old training for a race but absolutely murderous for somebody triple that age who has to go to work on Monday.

Yesterday I managed to bunnyhop 18 inches on my new Haro FST. Then I promptly shucked the bike out from under me on the next hop, landing on my back at no more than ten miles per hour but it still hurt. Today, John and I went to a kind of low-budget local skatepark where he actually got both wheels off the ground on a halfpipe. (Not above the coping; he just turned the bike a bit below the coping.) I’m so stoked for him. And yeah, I rode a bit too. It was easier than last weekend. There are only two things I can do in this world: remember the lyrics of the Seventies and overcome pain.

Speaking of pain, let’s see what we cranked out while I was curled up into a little keyboard-clutching ball last week.

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