Weekly Roundup: Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em Edition

I just found an old DVD with about 2,700 photos I took between 2001 and 2006. It’s been fascinating going through them — mostly because it shows how different my life was more than a decade ago. No kid, very few limits on my spending, and not much direction in life other than buying cars and clothes. Hmm. Maybe nothing’s changed at all. I don’t know.

This shot is me doing a brake-torque on my old friend Berg’s 300SEL 6.3, some time in 2005. It’s particularly relevant because Berg and I just collaborated on a new article for Hagerty Magazine this past Thursday. If you like classic American luxury sedans, or if you’re interested in the very best this country can make right now in 2017, it will reward your attention.

In the meantime, let’s check out this week’s contributions, including two print pieces for R&T that just went online.

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Weekly Roundup: Better Get Hit in Yo’ Sole Edition

If you were sitting up front on last Friday night’s flight from LaGuardia to John Glenn, I hope you will accept my apologies for the two loudmouths who were sitting across the aisle from each other and laughing like brain-damaged morons for the whole ninety minutes that the plane sat on the tarmac prior to receiving takeoff clearance. It was just pure chance that my brother and I had a chance to share so-called “first class” on a regional jet; my inbound flight from Zurich had been delayed two hours, causing me to miss my connection out of JFK. Meanwhile, brother Bark’s exit from Miami had been held up by weather. It just made sense to us to meet up at LGA and fly from there. And if we were a little obnoxious, it was just because I hadn’t seen the dude in five weeks and we had a lot of stories to tell.

For more of those stories, click the jump.

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Double Weekly Roundup: Master Of The Harmonicaster Edition

There’s a great part in Alexander Pope’s Epistle To Dr. Arbuthnot where he sarcastically thanks the “Great”, meaning the titled aristocracy, for showering riches on the most servile and repugnantly talentless poets out there and, by making pets of them, sparing Pope the hassle of having to read their work. “May dunce by dunce be whistled off my hands!” he snarls, before remarking that the aristocracy chose to ignore the genius of John Gay. To be fair, Gay was offered some preference by the “Great”, but he usually turned it down. His goal was to succeed on his own merits by appealing directly to the public, and in this goal he was eventually successful.

In a nutshell, that’s how I feel about Ronnie Schreiber. He’s one of the strongest writers in the business, a tireless researcher, a polymath with the ability to converse intelligently on any number of subjects, and a true friend. Time and again I’ve seen great opportunities pass him by and go to various congenital liars, con artists, talentless emo hacks, and fat-assed bench racers. All those dunces, whistled off my hands into cushy gigs where they rewrite press releases or make up stories about shit that never happened. Meanwhile, Ronnie perseveres. A while ago, he was the target of a slander and harassment campaign that nearly drove him out of the business and cost him a couple of lucrative outlets. Instead of crying about it, Ronnie sat down and… invented an instrument.

The electronic harmonica isn’t a new idea by a long shot. A working electronic harmonica, however, has been unicorn territory. Until now. This past week, Ronnie debuted the Harmonicaster at Nashville’s Summer NAMM Show. I was there to help out a little and hang around a lot. The music industry’s response to Ronnie’s self-financed, self-designed, self-promoted, and self-marketed invention was little short of staggering. In the space of seventy-two hours, the Nashville crowd realized what the cowards at Hemmings and elsewhere couldn’t figure out in five years — Ronnie is a brilliant, inventive, tireless man. And now he has a patent pending for a genuinely new thing. The young harmonica players love it. They’ll remember Ronnie long after everything his detractors have accomplished vanishes into dust.

Which reminds me — last week’s “Weekly Roundup” did vanish into dust, courtesy of my attempt to stay ahead of my work and travel schedule while dealing with some pretty unpleasant injuries suffered at a skatepark. I’m not quite back on the horse yet, but today’s the day to start catching up.

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They Doxx Tacos, Don’t They?

The grievance merchants on the American left — you know, the ones who have somehow obtained the power to mysteriously determine the difference between “free speech” and “hate speech” — rarely engage in rhetorical flourishes to justify their choices. Why should they? In a very real sense, wit and humor are almost exclusively the province of the underdog in any given situation. Think back to high school for a moment and ask yourself who the funny people were. Chances are that you won’t recall the captain of the football team or the homecoming queen among them. Rather, it was the locker-stuffed nerds and pipsqueaks who managed to dull the pain with a trenchant observation or tension-relieving joke.

Back when the Left was being stuffed into this country’s lockers, there was all sorts of great humor being written in the support of liberal causes. Today that’s not the case; we’ve exchanged the darkly funny and thoroughly subversive Smothers Brothers for the effete, hysterical, screeching John Oliver. Most progressive humor is a variant on “OMG LOOK AT THAT STUPID HICK.” Yet there is one particular sorta-witty phrase that I’ve recently heard in defense of various left-wing measures: “So what if (insert hivemind directive) isn’t real? What’s the worst that could happen? That we all (insert oversimplified result here) or something?” A frequent example is “So what if global warming isn’t real? What’s the worst that could happen? That we all have clean energy and lowered consumption and less impact to the environment or something?” This sounds very reasonable, of course, and it omits the fact that the “impact” of climate change regulations as a whole tends to be the shifting of economic, political, and military power from the Western World to China and India. Nobody argues against climate-change-related legislation because they hate stable weather and/or a reasonable crop yield. You might as well as “When did you stop beating your wife?”

Another variant: “What’s the worst thing that could happen if we got rid of hate speech and bigoted speech? That everybody would treat everybody else with dignity and respect?” This, too, sounds reasonable — but it conveniently overlooks that fact that one person’s “hate speech” is another person’s “free speech,” or “realtalk”, or even “gallows humor.” It also overlooks the fact that speech and power are directly correlated in any literate society. That’s why our British cousins will put people in jail for revving an Esprit V8 in the presence of immigrants but staunchly defend the right to advocate the violent death of all white men. It’s about power, not speech; my power to destroy your life for saying something that I don’t like while, at the same time, saying anything I want with utter impunity. And the more ridiculous that “anything” is, the more power I have. Never forget that Orwell’s O’Brien could float off the floor, if he wished it. When you make it public policy to jail one group of people for “hate speech” while encouraging it from others, you are effectively floating off the floor of reason.

They were both drunk, but only men can commit crimes.

This explains why we have so many centrist and right-of-center writers who depend on anonymity… and it explains why, as of two days ago, we are effectively short one of those fellows.

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Weekly Roundup: There’s A Generic Available For This Prescription Edition

There is a long and well-respected tradition of Japanese automakers copying the styling of German automakers. Sometimes it’s blatant: think quad-headlamp RWD Corolla sedan. Sometimes it’s semi-blatant: think Nineties Civic coupe. And sometimes it’s not copying at all. The eighth-generation and ninth-generation Accord coupes look quite a bit like the Mercedes W204 C-Class Coupe — but in this case, it was the Accord that arrived first, by four years.

Of course, if you’re a true snob of the Fatherland you can always point out that both of these cars owe quite a bit to the BMW 8-Series coupe. There’s always a bigger fish…

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Misapplied Chicken Edition

I saw this extremely ersatz Trans Am in Atlanta last week, sitting in the parking lot of the “Bandit Run” event. Here’s the disturbing part: It was one of THREE recent Chrysler products that had received an inappropriate Firebird bonnet logo. One of those three was a white Chrysler 300. With a V-6.

It’s best that we don’t think too much more about this. Instead, why don’t we catch up on what I (and Bark!) wrote for publication last week.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Bumble In London

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” — Samuel Johnson, to James Boswell, 20 September 1777

Late last week, I found myself standing in the spot where Samuel Johnson finished his Dictionary Of The English Language. This was my second visit to London in just three weeks, but the first time I was booked very tight with work. For this trip, I resolved to enjoy the city, which I did indeed. Besides the visits to Dr. Johnson’s home and to various pubs at which the great man was reputed to have dined, I went through a veritable Franky Four Fingers montage of visits to tailors and watch shops. The things I commissioned will be trickling in over the course of the next twelve months, so I will have to learn patience.

For the impatient among whose numbers I still count myself, however, let’s cut directly to last week’s publications, shall we?

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Weekly Roundup: Things Went Better Than Expected Edition

Truthfully, I could have put myself anywhere between the edge of John’s new kicker ramp and the sidewalk — he cleared the nine-foot gap and landed on the concrete with no trouble. But he was worried about hurting me. Back in the Riverside Green days I’d line a bunch of kids up and bunnyhop all of them. Sometimes I miscalculated and landed on somebody. You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Speaking of — here’s the omelet for this week.

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(Double) Weekly Roundup: The Green Heck Edition

It’s been a long time / I shouldn’t have left you

Scratch that, I’m happy to have left pretty much everybody in the United States behind for eight great days overseas in Europe. I drove a one-off green Lotus Evora Sport 410 at Spa, the Burgerkingring, and the Lotus test track near Hethel. (That’s the only one where I managed to get the nose of the car dirty, by the way.) As vacations go, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do… but the good news is that it was actually a working trip for me, because I was actually there to cover a new joint project between Ross Bentley and Ron Simons (of RSR Nurburg and 75 Experience fame) and to watch fifteen Americans experience the Nuburgring in hardware ranging from a Megane RS265 to a Maserati MC12 Corsa.

The funny thing is that Bark was doing something even more cool: driving the Acura NSX GT3 at Gingerman Raceway. We will see if he comes back with a report on that.

Let’s catch up on two weeks’ worth of missing contributions right quick.

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