Thank God we didn’t have the Internet during the Black Plague, or the Spanish Flu. I don’t think we would have survived. This relatively mild (by historical, not personal, standards) pandemic is exposing every fault line in our society. The notion of Two Americas has never been more explicit to me than now. We have the odd schism of Non-Essential People, who “work from home” and have Zoom Conference Happy Hours, and Essential People, for whom life is exactly the same except now it completely sucks. In-between we have the millions of people who are now unemployed with no end in sight. Other divisions: New Mexico is using this as an opportunity to close all gun stores, while Colorado is insisting that they remain open. You can infer a lot about what the rulers of these individual states think is going to happen in the near future by this difference in action.
The Uniparty knows this is Trump’s fault — they just haven’t settled on the cohesive narrative yet. You can watch it coming together in real time, like some sort of congealing grease. Trump’s China travel ban was widely panned as racist, criticism that is now being argued in retrospect with a lawyerly approach to reasonable doubt. as to what Biden et al. meant at the time.
(If you want to truly understand how our media works to skew public perception, compare the “fine people” situation with the a kid-gloves treatment given to Elizabeth Warren’s self-identification as Native American.)
It’s not just Trump’s fault, of course: it is also the fault of “Trumptards”. The Atlantic released a breathless piece eight days ago about how red-state types were ignoring the obvious threat of COVID-19 while the decent blue-state people were sheltering in place. Not discussed: the fact that people with guaranteed government, union, and investment income lean overwhelmingly blue, while self-employed people tend to be red. Also not discussed: the fact that the current Ground Zero for COVID-19 infection is the delightfully diverse and progressive city formerly known as New Amsterdam.
The plain fact is this: Paid quarantine is a luxury, one that much of the chattering class (including your occasionally left-of-center author) enjoys. Therefore we are being browbeaten with what amounts to Wuhan Porn. One wonders what Hemingway would do in a situation like this. Wait a minute: turns out we know what he would do. He’d go three ways with it.
Got this today from Hagerty’s new Community Editor, the one and only Sajeev Mehta. Every track on this mix slaps, as the kids say nowadays. Certainly a few of my readers will be annoyed by the cultural implications of Japanese musicians playing fusion with a header image of a “JDM”-style C3 Corvette at a Japanese trackday. The irony is that Japanese listeners are all but singlehandedly supporting jazz and blues nowadays. I’ve read more than a couple interviews with both fusion and trad-jazz types where they say something along the lines of “You have to tour America because that’s how you maintain credibility, but the venues are half-empty and the people who do show up are a pain in the ass. But the Japanese audiences will sell out a concert hall and make you glad you got on the plane.” Certainly a not-so-close look at the published touring itinerary of any jazz player will reveal as many Tokyo dates as there are “flyover country” gigs — or more.
Oh well. At least the Japanese like the good stuff. A friend of mine spent several years working for Sheryl Crow. Said that any time she needed to fill up her mad-money account she’d head to China for a corporate gig. What’s it cost to have Sheryl Crow play “All I Wanna Do” in China? Fifteen years ago, it was a million dollars PLUS EXPENSES. Imagine having seven figures to pay for music… and buying Sheryl Crow!
This 1973 Camaro, currently on eBay at 15,500 Buy It Now, is preying on my mind a bit. For what it is — a largely unadorned take on Sergio Pininfarina’s favorite American car. From 1970 to 2003 or thereabouts, the Camaro managed this utterly hilarious trick of being an utterly gorgeous and outrageous car which earned your contempt through mere ubiquitous familiarity. A 1973 Camaro… a 1982 Camaro… a 1994 Camaro… with a Ferrari badge and a production volume of 500 a year… can you imagine how people would go crazy over it? A few months ago, we had the Pegasus Firebird in Hagerty’s Traverse City home office and it was just different enough to make you see what you should have seen all along: the second-generation F-body was America’s 250GTO.
Mercifully free of the hockey-puck black plastic which came to define the interiors of the equally striking third-and-fourth-generation cars, this Camaro is gorgeous, exotic, and quite unusual with its rare opera windows. Yes, they are deservedly rare, perhaps, but with forty-five years’ worth of perspective I can appreciate them both aesthetically and functionally. I’ve driven a few of these cars and you need all the rear-quarter vision you can get.
As much as I love it for what it is, I also adore our opera-windowed ’73 for what it represents.
Back in June, in The Year Of Our Lord 2012 (damn, was that really almost eight years ago? Holy crap.), your author was able to finagle access to this eclectic collection of parts cars and Veddy British remnants after hearing about it from my brother Andy. It is not a big place, but it has some pretty interesting remains of Old Blighty. For instance, this Jaguar S-Type. Produced from 1963 to 1968, it was intended as a slightly fancier version of the venerable 3.8 Jaguar Mark II, and in fact was a Mark II, except for the new roofline, and caboose. It didn’t really take off though. Only about 25,000 were sold in six model years. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the one visible wheel is sporting a redline tire, like a late ’60s muscle car.
A few years ago, I decided to start slathering this websites with advertisements in a crass and deplorable attempt to recoup some of my hosting budget. Our valued reader and bitcoin magnate Pete Dushenski of contravex.com offered to sponsor the site ad-free for a year, an offer I declined because I like Pete and would rather take money from Google than take some of his occasionally fluctuating Bitcoin.
We had a month or two where I actually made twenty or thirty bucks after expenses, but in general we earn $60-80 in ad revenue against a constant hosting expense of $140/month. (To be fair, I use that resource for other things which have nothing to do with this site, and I willing pay extra money to have real hardware instead of a “presence” in The Clown. This is nice. After taxes, it’s like $400 extra a year, which would feed ten starving children overseas or supply me with another set of T&A cufflinks.
As you might expect, the bounty of Google does not come without strings attached. Periodically, the hivemind will inform me that I have written something which is simply too dangerous or threatening to warrant being supplied with advertisements.
I’ve always loved the 1977-79 Cadillacs. They were prominent during my formative years watching Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider. Of course the bad guys were usually driving them. Sure I liked the red Ferrari and black Trans Am just fine but I liked the Cadillacs more.
I didn’t put this in the Roundup yesterday because I didn’t have a free link for it yet. In this quarter’s issue of Cycle World you can read my retrospective on the Suzuki GS500. While researching the article I was reminded, yet again, of the stark difference between Gen-X and Millennial/Zoomer motorcyclists. These kids are more than happy to start on a Yamaha R3 (which is what Danger Girl rides) or Ninja 300, neither of which has the motivating power of, say, my 1975 Honda CB550. Were the GS500E to come back today, with its fifty horses and low-maintenance durability, I betcha some of these dudes would buy it. The Reddit motorcycles forum might as well be the Reddit Sub-600cc Motorcycles Forum. These young riders don’t have any desire to show off, go fast, or go face-first into oncoming traffic.
By contrast, the first streetbike I ever rode back in 1991 was my pal Sherman’s ZX-7RR. When I bought a 1986 Ninja 600 (75 horses, twin front discs, 135mph top speed) shortly afterwards, Sherman and my other new motorcycle pals were not complimentary. “Man, n***a, that’s a pussy-ass bike right there,” was the universal verdict. “You gonna want a Gixxer 750 in, like, a month.” Nobody in Gen-X wanted to ride anything slower than a front-line 600 — and that was seen as a “beginner bike”, something for the 90 days before you sucked it up and got a ZX-9R. Sherman’s opinion of me was not improved when I bought a new YZF600R in 2000. If they ever let him out of prison maybe he’ll approve of my ZX-14R. Maybe. Most of my time is spent riding my (newly JW-Speaker-LED-Adaptive-equipped) CB1100. It’s not a fast bike by the standards of my peers, but it’s a rocketship compared to a Ninja 300 or Rebel 500.
Why were we all so driven to get bikes that we had no idea how to ride and which would kill us in a heartbeat’s worth of inattention? Why did the GS500E gather dust on showroom floors while the 165-mph CBR600F3 became the universal “learner bike” in the United States? I suppose it was that “toxic masculinity” of which you hear so much nowadays. We were all looking for something against which to test our mettle. We had this idea of manhood as something you earned rather than as an identity that any creature could choose at any point in its life sans effort or consequences. I’m not sure we’ve completely leached that toxicity from all of our young men. Sometimes I will watch my son prepare himself for a jump or obstacle he hasn’t done yet and I can see his whole body shudder as he forces himself past whatever fear he’s feeling at the moment. If I have any sense, I’ll make sure the keys to that ZX-14R are well hidden a few years from now. Would he be satisfied, I wonder, with a Suzuki GS500E?
We have a shortage of everything in this country right now, apparently — the gun stores are sold out, the pharmacies aren’t picking up the phone, and the toilet-paper shelves are empty — but most of all, there appears to be a desperate shortage of… Nazis. You wouldn’t think this is the case, given the rate at which the definition of “Nazi” is being ratcheted down. In 1932, it meant someone who was a member of the NSDAP. By 1941 it meant “pretty much any German”. By 2016 it meant voting for Trump. A year later, it meant making the highly offensive and racist suggestion that it was okay to be white. In 2020, “Nazi” has been expanded to mean “would vote for Biden over Sanders”.
At this point, by my count, at least 65% of the country might be Nazis. Possibly more than that. Some of them are, apparently, black. You could be a Nazi right now and not even know it — until you are called out as such, which is one of those accusations which cannot be effectively refuted, even if you’re related to someone who actually tried to kill Hitler.
As many Nazis as we currently have in America, however, the demand is still exceeding the supply. How else can you explain the recent, and profoundly, disturbing fetish the mainstream media has developed for Nazi pornography?
It’s only been about two weeks since the Clark County Schools closed here in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, and I’m already prepared to never send my kids back—to either public or private school. I’ve been unfortunate/blessed to have been unemployed since January 22nd (have no fear, I’ve accepted a new job—more on that in another post), so I’ve spent nearly every second of every day with them at home since the quarantine went into effect.
Frankly, I’m disgusted.
I don’t blame the teachers or the schools for not being suitably prepared for this Chinese virus crisis—after all, who was? Certainly not our government, or our hospitals, or our corporations. No, what I blame them for is not being suitably prepared to do the jobs they do every single day at the charity of the tax and/or tuition payer.