Poor Oldsmobile. During the 1980s it went from volume champion to being essentially the Cutlass Division of GM, thus finishing the decade in a real bind. What went wrong? Was it the loss of divisional independence caused by the newly formed B-O-C Group? The omnipresence of front-wheel drive? Increased, and increasingly intense, competition? In any case, only one thing is certain: In the late summer of 1985, the last medium-priced, B-body Delta 88s came off the line. Perhaps taking with it the bulk of Oldsmobile’s upper-middle class clientele.
The first newly downsized full-size Oldsmobiles–including the last of the “big” Delta 88s and equally trimmer Ninety-Eights–debuted in 1977. The zaftig 1971-76 gunboats were now a thing of the past. Sales of their attractive, crisply styled ‘sheer look’ replacements took off. In 1977, Oldsmobile set a production record, albeit on the strength of Cutlasses. But the big cars did very well too.
Despite being much smaller than the ’76s, the ’77 Royales had more interior room and trunk space. One shocking development was that the standard engine was not a V8. A 231 cu in V6 came standard, but 260, 300 and 400 CID V8s were available. And popular. Also available was a 5.7-liter V8 Diesel.
Sometimes, during a long drive or while suffering on my elliptical machine, I like to daydream. When I was younger, these daydreams often involved being fearsomely wealthy, much better looking than I really am, or in close quarters with a Titanic-era Kate Winslet. In my senescence, however, I am permitting myself to daydream bigger. As an example, I like to wonder,
“What would have the media of 1950, or even 1970, made of the COVID-19 pandemic?”
Talk about a fantasy, right? I’d like to think that the serious men who ran newspapers back then would have handled it as a non-partisan issue, as many things were handled back then. (Alright, K-Graham would have no doubt blamed it on Nixon somehow, but still.) I want to believe that the reporters would have viewed Fauci and his ping-pong policy with an appropriate amount of skepticism, because in those days newspapers considered it their duty to “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable”.
The endless partisan propaganda about “frontline workers” and all the people whom the media selects for its most cherished accolade, “exhausted“, would be mostly notable by its absence. They would have held Trump to account for an effective response to the pandemic, rather than playing an endless game of “gotcha”, and they would have held Biden to account on his pandemic policies, rather than penning Dear-Leader-style panegyric to a man who, by all accounts, is alternately confused by, and terrified of, the world around him. I doubt that the cigar-chomping desk chiefs of the era would have spent ten seconds listening to the “wet market” theory, a repugnant fabrication that haunts both the Left and the Right to this day.
Oh, and the “transitory” lie regarding our Carter-era inflation never would have dared to rear its loathsome head.
Surely they would have ferreted out the truth about the number of people, particularly older people, who die with COVID rather than from it, something that is just now being admitted by the health bureaucracies in many countries. I believe that the media would have been vigilant regarding the removal of personal freedoms, and leonine in their efforts for the restoration of same as soon as the situation permitted. Last but not least, I’d like to think that we wouldn’t seen the current utter politicization of COVID beliefs, in which lefties wear meaningless masks while driving solo and carpet-bomb social media with exhaustion porn while righties froth at the mouth regarding even the most harmless of policy responses thanks to random and often just plain false information from fly-by-night news sites.
Oh well. It’s just a fantasy, and no more likely to come true than the one where Christian Horner calls me to explain that next year’s RB18 will fit a 225-pound driver and that they know just the guy, and it’s me, and also Geri “Ginger Spice” Horner would like me to come over for dinner. And it hardly matters, because unlike the practitioners of Ingsoc, the media-governmental complex in this country does not quite have absolute control of the Narrative. How do I know? Well, just look around!
Oh no! A Seville! When Cadillac sold luxury cars, and where never was heard, any combover word. Yes, the bustle back Seville. Banks of computers are coming online, electricity is churning and burning, as certain RG folks immediately start typing madly, seeing this blast from the past. Great walls o’ text, saying in multiple paragraphs and for the 4,782nd time, I do not like that car, good sir. Oh crap, the RG server is beginning to smoke. BeepabeepabeepabeepaAWOOGAAWOOGAAWOOGA!
Yes, indeedy! *cackles madly*
Well-respected and ground-breaking automotive blogger Joe Sherlock died on December 29th last year. As with C.G. Hill, I had to find this out from a reader — thank you, davis. I’ll miss Mr. Sherlock; he was one of the good guys.
That being said, due to my own inability to get my act together I happen to be sitting on fourteen book reviews, written for Riverside Green by Joe last year. I’d been waiting on “the right time” to put them up, but as my father once told me about having children, if you wait until you’re truly ready you will never do it. So I’ll start running those in the weeks to come.
Joe’s self-selected “Greatest Hits” can be found here. He always wrote with modesty, decency, and clarity foremost in his mind. It was a pleasure to read and to correspond with him. He will be missed, here and elsewhere.
Here’s another round of the vintage insured photos I rescued from the recycle bin at the insurance company twenty-odd years ago. I saved them purely for the cars in the pictures, but nowadays I can appreciate the buildings too. Continue Reading →
“Is this the f—ing Bumblebees song?” It was barely eight in the morning and Danger Girl was in no mood to hear No Return (Main Title Theme) (Single from “Yellowjackets Showtime Original Series Soundtrack”) cranked up in my increasingly raggedy Accord Coupe. (My street car, mind you; the race Accord is no more raggedy than it was when it won me a regional championship in 2018, and it will be returning to the track in 2022 so I can take a run at my local Super Touring U title.)
The “Yellowjackets” show is a bit of an acquired taste, but the theme song is a masterful thing indeed, consciously created for the show as a “lost track” from the grunge-poppy year of 1996 by fifty-something never-was punk rockers Anna Waronker and Craig Wedren. (That’s not fair, really; Anna is still forty-nine and holding up just as well as your evergreen author, who predates her by eight months.) Ms. Waronker and Mr. Wedren are also responsible for assembling the show’s overall soundtrack, and they do a subtly brilliant job of it. What did teen girls listen to in 1996? Judging by the facility with which my wife can instantly sing along with anything played on the show, it was this stuff.
Pitchfork has a deeper dive into the soundtrack, but I want to talk about one song in particular: “Gepetto”, released in 1993 by the four-person band Belly. Call me a teenaged girl if you like, but I was way into Belly and its fascinating frontwoman, Tanya Donelly, back in 1993, despite being a 21-year-old pin-and-plate-shooter with a chip on my shoulder and a permanent grudge against the world. The conventional wisdom is that Star, the first of the band’s two albums, is the better one; it sold over a million copies, pummeled MTV audiences with its lead single “Feed The Tree” several times a day, and made Tanya a quite controversial figure in the self-loathing, crabs-in-a-bucket pop-punk world.
As is often (but not always) the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. King, Tanya’s follow-up, sold just 350k copies despite a massive promo effort from the label, and most people aren’t even aware it exists, but it is brilliant. If the old tale about wearing out a CD by playing it so much the laser flattens the pits in the aluminum could be true, it would surely apply to my old King CD, bought on release day and played constantly for years afterwards.
That being said, I haven’t touched either Belly album in well over a decade. What did I hear when I returned to King after all this time? Uh, some really disturbing stuff.
Here’s what I should have done with my $778 in 2012: bought 140 bitcoins, which would now be worth about six million dollars.
Here’s what I actually did: bought a Gibson Les Paul “BFG Gator”.
Today I sold it for $1,079 online. After fees and shipping that’s about $980. If you adjust for the official inflation rate I still made about sixty bucks — but if we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that all government statistics are at least partially fabricated, inflation rates most of all.
Why did I sell my Gibson today? Because I listed it on my Reverb store (available here!) and it lasted all of seventeen minutes before selling.
Why did I list it today? Because I just had the most depressing guitar show experience in my life.
Why was it depressing? Let me tell you…
A few days after I posted that ’78 Fleetwood Brougham previously discussed, I ran across this Bonneville in similar colors, just with a light gray top instead of black. I’ve always liked these, Dad had one, and I love their clean flanks and fender skirts. This one was for sale in Chicago on Marketplace.
Thin description, rather sucky pictures (I cropped/prettied them up for this post), and it always bugs me when the seller has to hide the price. “$1.” Oh OK, I’ll take it, and if you say it’s more I’ll sue for fraud, bwahahahahaha! Or: “The price is a secret. If you beg and plead, maybe I’ll tell you what it is, hurr hurr!” Great.
Note: This originally ran on a site run by some dude who bought a Scion xB and painted the wheels red. I drove the car in late autumn 2013, when these were still fairly common as late-model used cars at Caddy dealerships. I’d just bought my 2000 Cartier (which is now living happily in Syracuse, NY with its new enthusiast owner). It was also the first car I drove with a heated steering wheel. 🙂 -TK
Once upon a time, Cadillac sold sedans and coupes, with French names and chrome and bench seats and stand-up hood ornaments. Today, they primarily sell glitzed up combovers and the Escalade-though they do still sell two sedan models. But you’d have been hard pressed to find them on Cadillac dealer lots even before the Chicom Chip Chaos Conundrum-but never mind that.
Max Julien died on New Years’ Day. He was a theater actor for most of his life, but most of us know him for his sublime portrayal of “Goldie” in The Mack. As with Ron O’Neal’s “Priest” in Superfly, Julien made a real person out of someone who in the hands of a lesser actor would have been a pastiche or parody. It’s also worth noting that Julien’s input was critical to a rewritten script that moved The Mack from raw “blaxploitation” to an authentically moral film.
In Goldie’s honor, I’m republishing my December 10, 2011 TTAC story in which he plays a central part. A note to the reader: it’s been over a decade since the events recounted here occurred, and I hope we have all grown as human beings since then. I’ve removed a broken link and cleaned up a sentence or two for clarity. I’ve also added a paragraph at the end to catch the reader up on what’s happened to everyone in the story since then.