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.


For Road&Track, I discussed the controversial choice of track for the new Top Gear America. Then I suggested a return of the red light camera. The Facebook comments for this one serve as absolute proof that nobody bothers to read past the headline before responding.

At TTAC, I answered a question about the MKT, suggested a different approach for Cadillac, and considered some difficult questions facing American.

I’d like to thank everybody who has sent in questions for “Ask Jack”. If you have a question, even if it is not car-related, send it to askjack@jackbaruth.com. Thank you!

32 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Nothing’s Sacred Edition”

  1. Josh Howard

    The Top Gear track article is horrifying. Guys will pay a PREMIUM to run that track and try to break said Stig’s time… just as you say. I cannot see this going well for the track, an instructor, or the show. Also: WHO WAS ASKING FOR THIS REBOOT???

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The answer has to be: just the people who are going to be on the show? And the SpeedVegas owner?

      Reply
      • Ryan

        I’ll be happy when any iteration of TG (and GT, for that matter) cease to be a thing. It’s one thing when the internet blows up about Clarkson taking a shit in a Bentayga, but the people who assume I watch either show because I’m into cars gets old fast. That’s not even counting people who try to start conversations over Fast & Loud or whatever public access quality programming that’s on Velocity.

        Reply
    • Economist

      I liked TG USA, I always thought Rutledge Wood was my kind of car guy. I also liked the fact that they jettisoned most of the TG deadweight ( celebrities, “reviews” of whatever $300000 hypercar is new” and focused on the challenges.

      Reply
  2. TheMook

    You SHIPPED a Marvbird????? The thought alone gives me the chills.

    Your motivation behind the decision to part with some of your possessions is infectiously commendable. Props on the growth.

    Reply
  3. Frank Williams

    It’s clear Cadillac has lost it. In one of their latest commercials, the only car they show is the Escala concept, a car that no one can buy at any price. There’s a voice-over of double-talking weasel words that makes vague references about future Cadillacs but never says anything about any model currently on the market. Then there’s barely-readable fine print that admits the Escala is a concept, but promises its “design will inspire the next generation of Cadillacs.” Is their current line-up so pathetic the only thing they can find on which to build an ad is a promise that they might offer something better some time or the other in the future?

    Reply
    • silentsod

      Cadillac has one strong product brand wise and has had for the fifteen years or so. The Escalade defines the brand for my age group. I understand them not capitalizing on the Escalade and creating a slew of LUVs during the economic downturn where gas prices were on the forefront of buyer’s minds but now that they’re not and people are buying things they can’t afford it’s the perfect time! Their sedans and coupes are not seen as particularly desirable when compared to the BMW product they were attempting to copy. BMW, though, sure as shit does not have the same swagger as the Escalade does in the minds of my age group and that is what should have set them apart.

      Personally, I still think of Cadillacs as being cars for old farts who want a cush ride even though that hasn’t been true for quite some time.

      Reply
  4. dal20402

    Jack, I’m sure you’re picking up a huge amount of static for the red light camera article, so I just want to say it was great and I agreed with every word of it.

    No on moneymaking schemes that corrupt traffic enforcement by doing things like shortening yellows or issuing tickets by default for legal rights on red.

    Yes on more, and more consistent, red light enforcement. What you experienced as a motorcyclist, I see as a pedestrian on a weekly basis. Even drivers in passive, rule-abiding Seattle are increasingly not taking red lights seriously. In a crosswalk on the WALK light? Better have your head on a swivel.

    Reply
    • everybodyhatesscott

      No on moneymaking schemes that corrupt traffic enforcement by doing things like shortening yellows or issuing tickets by default for legal rights on red.

      Yes on more, and more consistent, red light enforcement.

      Sadly, I think the two are inextricably tied.

      Reply
  5. Eric H

    I agree that cops don’t give a shit about red light runners.
    About a decade ago I was coming home from the rink after a late night hockey game, it was about 2am. I pull up to a red light on a main intersection. The light turns yellow the other direction and a cop pulls up and stops to my right the the newly red light, just like he should. The light turns green and I see a car coming from my left at a high rate of speed and he just blows through the light. I pause at the intersection expecting the cop to go after the guy seeing as this was 50kmh zone and the guy who blew the light was easily double that. Then I flash the highbeams at the cop who’s just sitting there. After no response I go through the intersection and then the cop flips on his lights and pulls me over! I flip out and start yelling at the cop telling him to do his job and he looks at me all pissed that I called him out. He then goes back to his car and drives off without saying anything. Total asshole.

    Reply
    • Djarum

      I was visiting my folks in Florida and many of the municipalities are using blue lights on top of the lights so police can detect motorists running easier. Saw a guy get pulled over for running a red light with a cop parked in a parking lot 200 yards away using the blue light.

      Reply
  6. -Nate-Nate

    I just came in the door after nearly being hit by _FOUR_ red light runners in Gardena, not even close to the yellow .
    On Normandie, right where the city took out one of these cameras last year .
    .
    The @$$#at who crippled me for life and nearly killed me, rad a red light and ran me over on my Motocycle in 2008 .
    .
    These cameras are good but need to be done correctly, not to be ca$h cow$ .
    .
    -Nate

    Reply
  7. everybodyhatesscott

    Jack, you never blow red lights that don’t turn cause you’re on the bike or is the zx-14 so heavy you always trigger the sensors?

    I can count on one hand the number of lights I’ve blown through because I missed timed them but I’ve turned at plenty of left red arrows at 2am that just wouldn’t change.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Where possible, I do a right turn on red then a U-turn. But yeah — I’ve rolled a few.

      The answer to that from an enforcement perspective: don’t ticket anybody doing 5mph or less.

      Reply
    • frankev

      Illinois implemented a law in 2012 allowing motorcyclists to advance through an untriggered red after waiting two minutes. Oddly enough, the statute as written excludes Chicago.

      At the time of its passage, 11 other states had similar regulations.

      Reply
  8. rwb

    If sentimentality is anything but an impediment to making good long-term decisions, I have no evidence of such.

    You know I’m hardly in a position to say anything here, but I think you’re doing the right thing, providing experiences versus sentimental objects.

    Even if your son wants to eventually get serious about the guitar, I bet he’ll be OK trading this one (admittedly pretty cool) artifact for a year of activities other kids would love to have.

    Reply
  9. ZG

    Right on with the Cadillac article. You read a lot of stuff on the car enthusiast internet about how manufacturers should listen to engineers more in their product decisions. I think the Cadillac lineup is a pretty strong refutation of that talking point.

    Reply
  10. CJinSD

    Experience says that red light cameras become revenue streams primarily, just like all traffic enforcement; from parking to drunk driving. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Your fearful riding of a motorcycle might not be worth my $380 ticket for getting caught by a .2 second yellow light, or three extra minutes lost at every intersection set up to tempt potential hosts.

    Reply
    • Kevin Jaeger

      Yes, it’s unfortunate but true. I have no objection to strict enforcement of traffic laws to improve safety, and running red lights is surely one of the larger hazards on the road.

      But we have enough experience with this to know what cities do when they get these things. They sell them to the public as a safety measure and once installed are simply unable to resist the revenue stream available from shortening the yellows, which is sure to increase both revenue and crashes.

      It is hopelessly idealistic to think it would end any other way, no matter how many provisions against it you think you’re starting with.

      Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Kudos for being 3edgy here but it’s not really a case of my motorcycling fearfulneas. I always check the intersection. It’s that mother with two kids who doesnt have spatial awareness.

      Reply
      • CJinSD

        I had to look up what 3edgy means, but my comment wasn’t actually meant as a personal attack. The worst red light runners aren’t going to be deterred by cameras, because they aren’t paying attention or don’t care. I used to ride my bicycle almost everyday around a loop that covered three beach communities. I was hit by someone who was waived out of a parking lot into my path by a helpful idiot who should have been using their own right away. I was brushed by bike lane crowding Range Rovers. I had many a narrow miss from red light runners, but it was never the ones that were extending a yellow. It was cops talking on phones and blowing a light mid cycle with no lights or siren. It was people making rights on red without slowing or looking. I don’t think the camera brings anything to the table that promotes safety. Last time we were blighted by red light revenue cameras and their increase in accident races the arguments were the same until reality hit. Pushing for them now is just like pushing for socialism with all that is known and proven about its underlying nature.

        Reply
  11. James

    The gap between de facto and de jure has only increased, in traffic enforcement. Around Seattle, for example, you can drive a good 10 mph faster on rainy days than on sunny days, because cops apparently don’t like to get wet. Traffic safety, of course, demands more enforcement in dangerous conditions; revenue demands the opposite, and wins out.

    De jure–you must not run a red light. De facto, here is a list of traffic lights you may run with impunity, and here is a list of traffic lights where you may not perform a right turn on red…

    People adapt to the world as it is, not as it is said to be.

    Reply
  12. Steve Renwick

    I actually have seen a car run a red light right in front of a cop, and seen the cop pull him over for it.

    Once. In 1984.

    Reply
  13. Sseigmund

    Although I share your rage at the runners, red light cameras elevate my blood pressure to dangerous levels. I would vote to install spike strips at intersections that operate with the light changes. The bull5hit would stop almost instantly. I’ve never known anyone to disrespect the stop signs at airport car rental lots. To some this may seem outrageous, but no less so than running a red light in my eyes.

    About that Marv Lamb Gibson. You won’t miss it very long, and I believe your life will be happier as a result of selling it. My dad can’t let go of his monumental collection of objects even thought it would enable him to relocate closer to his children in his advancing age. When he finally draws his last breath my bothers and I will have a big estate sale and turn the dollars income from his earning years into depreciated pennies in the present, and I will regret the time we will never spend together.

    Reply
  14. Djarum

    Not sure where you live, but here in Alabama it’s 3 points and 150 dollars for running a red light. It’s definitely a moving violation.

    Reply
  15. Mark

    Jack,

    That 357 is stunning. But then there are a lot, maybe too many, great looking guitars.

    I’m still wailing on that Super Eagle with P90s. Pete Moreno fully restored it cosmetically.

    I toured the new Heritage facility recently. It is much better organized.

    Hang in there, my friend.

    Mark

    Reply

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