I like this analogy — the five-dollar word — because it can easily be extended to demonstrate a depressing, but absolutely inarguable, point. Samuel Clemens wrote his most popular work between 1880 and 1890. According to this inflation calculator, five bucks in 1890 is equivalent to about $130 today. Looked at another way, five dollars in 2017 has the spending power of nineteen cents in 1890.
So let’s take a look at the “home-equity loan” paragraph referred to by the above commenter and see what effect the inflation of illiteracy, which has proceeded in lockstep with the inflation of the currency, has done to make my relatively prosaic prose so precociously pricey.
“Would you like to visit our nightclub?” the person at the hotel door asked. “Let me give you a ticket, miss.” I blame this on Danger Girl, who looked very glamorous in her gold sequin dress and white leather boots. I looked positively homeless; I was wearing an old Tyrwhitt buttondown and NB 990s. On the presumption that I was her valet, or perhaps father, they let me in too.
After an hour of bouncing around aimlessly on the main floor, staring up at the dancers and listening to a second-rate DJ pretend to be a bleach-blonde steroid-using variant of Tiesto, my knees called time on the affair. I was already peeved because a bouncer had shoved me out of the way to make room for a group of VIP investment bankers and their ensemble of prostitutes. It takes some shoving to move me, you know. “Don’t punch that guy,” brother Bark advised. “All twelve of his fellow bouncers will kill you.”
I don’t need to go back there. Contrary to 50 Cent’s protestations, you will not find me in the club. But you can find me on some of your favorite websites. Let’s take a look.
When I started doing Ask Bark columns, I feared that every week would turn into “What’s the best sporty car I can get for under $10,000?” Since I no longer work there, I’m sure it’s completely fine that I tell you that the most popular search on that big, orange auto classifieds site is “Any make, under $10,000.”
Why? Well, anybody who’s anybody knows that used car prices are skyrocketing (yes, there was a dip in February, but that was an aberration). But why? After all, if used cars are lasting longer than they ever have before (and they are—the average age of the car on American roads is 11.4 years, and that’s after Obama paid $2.8B to take nearly 700,000 working vehicles off the roads), then why do prices keep going up? Shouldn’t there be more cheap cars on the road now?
You can thank the lease bubble. There are going to be 7 million lease returns flooding the marketplace this year. All of these cars were dumped on the market to keep the SAAR climbing and climbing to numbers that were completely unsustainable. Well, those cars are alllllll coming back now, and the residuals are too damn high. So all the lease returns going through the franchise-only auctions are being sold with insane reserves, but if the dealers want to have late-model, low mileage inventory, what choice do they have but to pay? And you know that they’re passing those savings right along to you, the people.
As a result, used car prices now average 60% of new car prices, the highest in history. Thanks a lot, you douchenozzles who leased $99 Cruzes with zero down—you’ve killed us!
There’s a whole article on this to be written, but since this is my blog and not something I have to write for a deadline, I’ll do it another time. Now, to the man with the Mustang question!
A few years ago, in the first few rumbles of the H1-B avalanche that cut the legs out from under a whole generation of young men who had dutifully followed the advice of their guidance counselors into comp-sci degrees, I learned a fascinating phrase: “do the needful.” Indian men of a certain age say it as shorthand for handle your business. “Krishna, we haven’t had a software deployment in three days, so if you do the needful I will restart the broker service.” The Millennials from the subcontinent consider it very fuddy-duddy, like saying “Daddy-O” or, come to think of it, “fuddy-duddy.”
Anyway, last week I “did the needful” and checked my LinkedIn mailbox. It would be difficult for me to adequately express my contempt for the entire concept of LinkedIn in any context other than perhaps an opera of Wagnerian scale and dynamic range. I can see it now, actually. The incomparable Renee Fleming belting out that G6 while she plunges a flaming sword into the heart of LinkedIn’s founder on a Parthenon-esque stage made from the bleached-white bones of every “marketing professional” in the United States, floating in a moat of blood drawn from the jugular of every woman who has ever used “dialogue” as a verb in a meeting. The chorus swells with a threatening minor. Certain chairs in the audience are connected to 500,000 volts of power, frying the skullcaps right off anyone who works for a consulting firm in any main-office capacity. Jesper Christensen leans over to the woman next to him and quips, “Well, Tosca is not for everyone!” You get the idea.
I have to “do the needful” periodically because every once in a great while someone of interest will contact me. Last month I heard from the fellow who sold me my 911 fifteen years ago. I’d given him up for dead. The vast majority of my Inbox, however, consists of LinkedIn spam and “connection” attempts from third-tier PR staff at electronics-accessory companies. Lately, however, I’ve started to notice a new trend: people who want some sort of advice from me about “becoming a writer”.
Note: This post was written by Carmine, a friend of mine, for another site several years ago. In keeping with the appearance earlier this week of a similar-vintage Cadillac, I thought this would be a good time to add this Continental to Riverside Green. Enjoy!
I photographed this laid-low 1958 Continental a few months ago, but had forgotten about the pictures until recently. It was spotted with a group of other cars in a warehouse parking lot in an industrial area. I had seen them from the interstate several times, and made note of the cars, meaning to get back to them.
Let me start with some apologies — I should have put this up a month ago, but I’ve been on a continual treadmill of distraction. I have a couple very solid written contributions from the Riverside Green commenter/reader base as well that will be going up shortly. All I can ask is that all of you be patient with me. I work three jobs and I have the attention span of that lesbian fish in the crappy Disney movies.
The Memphis Motor Co. is a band that performs traditional Eighties-style synthpop. If you like Tears For Fears, Real Life, When In Rome, The Smiths, or anything from that era, you will dig this. One of their frontmen is an occasional correspondent of mine and Riverside Green reader. He gave me a scoop on their EP release a while back and I just sat on it because I wanted to give the music a thorough listen before putting it up here.
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.
Until 2014, I had nothing to do with Facebook. I just didn’t see the need for it, and I thought I had enough going on in my life already without having another way to kill multiple hours online. But then my friend Richard Bennett started The Brougham Society, a group dedicated to the landau-roofed, velour-lined, fender-skirted domestic yachts from the ’50s through the early ’90s. Due to that group, and my drifting away from writing for another non-FB old car site, I got involved with a number of other FB car-related groups, such as The American Brougham Society.and The Classic Lincoln & Continental Appreciation Society. And met a lot of great people. One of those people, Josh Noiles, is the proud owner of this 1960 Cadillac Series 62 six-window sedan in Inverness Green.
This has been up on my Instagram (@jackbaruthofficial) for a few days but I thought I’d share it here in higher-definition form. This was my “progression goal” for last weekend: make it over all eleven box jumps on the “Profile World” flow track. On my first trip here, I made it over nine of the eleven, but I totally “bonked” in the last turn. My bike and I together weigh 281 pounds so it amounts to eleven deadlifts in forty-two seconds while also pedaling.
I’d figured that I would need to spend a month or so doing something differently on the elliptical during the week in order to build the endurance I’d need, but my coach and old friend, Javier Larrea, had a better idea. He re-mapped the line that I use in the beginning of the section. adding an extra jump on the skip-up to the hard uphill left turn. This sounds like it would take more energy than riding it but it actually gives me enough extra momentum to save me two pedals on the way down the second hill, which gives me enough oxygen to pull for the final two jumps. Then he was kind enough to be the camera bike for my run. I actually dropped him a bit in the beginning… there’s something to be said for weight when you’re going down a hill.
My old friend Nick will never realize it but when he died he gave me the final push I needed to start riding again. I don’t have much left in me; too much metal in the left knee and too few ligaments in the right. But I want my son to see me ride with his own two eyes instead of looking at old Digital8 clips. Someday he’ll be forty-five years old and the day may come that he needs a bit of inspiration or motivation to tackle whatever’s ahead of him. I won’t be around to tell him myself. But he’ll remember that his old man was both stubborn and pain-resistant. That goes a long way in this world. It’s not like being handsome or lucky but sometimes it’s enough.
I think just about everybody who reads Riverside Green is aware that I majored in Music in school—more specifically, I majored in Jazz Performance. When I was in school, the best textbooks I had were actually compact discs. I scrimped and saved from my part-time job to buy used CDs from “Used Kids Records” on High Street for anywhere from $5-7 apiece—new CDs were out of the question, financially. It was thanks to Used Kids that I learned about off-the-radar saxophonists like Mark Turner, Teodross Avery, Wessell Anderson, and Tim Warfield. I digested their musical vocabulary, transcribed their solos, and regurgitated my learnings through the bell of my horn.
I’ve spent hundreds and thousands of hours practicing the saxophone, writing music, and performing on stages throughout North America and Europe. I’ve been blessed to share stages with some of the biggest names in music. And, for several years, playing the brass bagpipes was how I (barely) paid the bills.
Which is why I’m incredibly conflicted every time that I open up my Spotify app.