Infantile Narcissism And Its Discontents

If you read this blog often enough — and I hope you do, we’re clocking along at very close to that sacred break-even point where the fiscal rewards for my online babbling precisely match the sunk costs of making said babbling available — then you know that all, or at least many, roads lead to The Last Psychiatrist and his recurring focus on narcissism as our modern disease. Periodically, we will have a smarter-than-thou reader who will cast a weary, jaded eye upon all that is discussed here and airily condemn it with some variant of “Yeah, yeah, whatever, people have always been narcissists, there’s nothing new under the sun, there’s nothing to worry about.” The first two assertions are probably correct; the third is probably not.

Want proof? Would you like to see just how addicting and powerful narcissism can be? Then let’s start with a conversation between two people who think it’s just hilarious to nearly kill innocent people through deliberate stupidity.

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1975 Oldsmobile Starfire: Lansing’s Monza, Plus Bonus ’60s Starfire History!

While many people who are into classic cars know the Oldsmobile Starfire, odds are they are remembering the full-figured yet sporty early ’60s hardtop coupe and convertible. Honestly, the name had to have come from the early ’60s. Could there have been a more Jet Age name for a car than Starfire?

Introduced January 1, 1961, the new Starfire was a flossier version of the Super 88. Following the introduction of the 1958 Thunderbird, Detroit quickly caught ‘buckets and console’ fever, and as a result many special models were added by all the manufacturers.

In addition to Super 88 equipment, the Starfire received, naturally, buckets seats and a center console, but also a tachometer, brushed aluminum side moldings on the ‘cove’ stamped into the bodyside, power seats and dual exhaust. It was available solely as a convertible, with a base price of $4,647. Only 7,800 were built.

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Weekly Roundup: You Best Not Miss Edition

Twitter is ABUZZ! with people laughing at actor/controversialist/superglue victim James Woods and his HILARIOUS! attempt to DE-GHETTO-IZE! a quote from Omar Little, the Robin-Hood-esque gangster on The Wire. Regarding the Mueller Report, Woods wrote:

“If you try to kill the King, you better not miss.”

When Everybody Knows! that Omar said,

“You come at the king, you best not miss.”

How could Woods be so ILLITERATE?

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Cathedrals Burned And Built Edition

There’s a monster growing outside my hotel window here in New York City. It’s called the Central Park Tower and it will have the tallest rooftop in the Western Hemisphere. In the Middle East and in Asia, of course, they build higher; the Chinese, in particular, treat the construction of massive skyscrapers with the same seriousness that Americans reserve for making sure that all pronouns are gender-neutral.

From my window I can see the cantilevered side of the structure. The “air rights” for the cantilever were purchased from the directors of the Art Students League next door; the members of the League promptly sued the directors. A court told them to pound sand. In New York, the very air above you can be purchased. Some part of the building was once the city’s original Steinway dealership. In recognition of this, there will be Steinway pianos in the building. They will not go unplayed, as they do in Beverly Hills, because the new owners will have children with musical accomplishments.

Central Park Tower will cost three billion dollars by the time it is completed. You can roost near the top for a mere $95 million, or you can live down near the proles for a quarter of that. It’s worth noting that there are only two kinds of people in the world where these prices are concerned: those for whom such a residence is beyond even the distant reaches of possibility, and those for whom it will be a second home, a pied-a-terre for occasional visits to the city, a minor part of a diversified portfolio. It’s become common for Chinese families to buy these things as hedges against some potential chaos in the homeland. Russians, too.

In fact, the entire saga of the tower, as blandly described on Wikipedia, has a distinctively international flavor to it. The Chinese own a big part of it, the Israelis were involved somehow, various globe-spanning banks and corporations bailed each other out of potentially bad loans. None of it makes much sense until you consider that the building simply must exist. There are 179 extremely powerful and important individuals out there who wish it to exist, to say nothing of the Nordstrom corporation and the various other business tenants. It is an expression of will, of belief, of faith.

Which is to say… it’s a cathedral.

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1974 Continental Mark IV: Maize Yellow Yacht

The weekend has barely begun, and here I am ogling vintage ’70s land yachts on CL, via one of my favorite Facebook groups, Finding Future Classic Cars. And it will no doubt come as no surprise to most of you that one, it is a Continental, two, that it is pastel yellow, and three, that it is from the 1970s. The trifecta! So let’s check out this 1974 Continental Mark IV.

As with my Brougham lust for 1971-76 Cadillac Fleetwood Broughams, my equal fascination with the 1972-76 Continental Mark IV is due to my having a little diecast version of one when I was a kid. Also, my grandfather, Bob Klockau, had a triple dark green 1972 model. Also, Cannon is just about my favorite TV show. So every time I see one, I go back in time.

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Spotter’s Guide To The May 2019 Watch Journal

I had the pleasure of reviewing the new skeleton watches from Jacquet Jaquet Droz in this month’s Watch Journal. They’re not exactly my personal style (I’ve been dividing time between a Tudor Black Bay Bronze and a hilarious, but super-useful, gold-ion-plated Seiko Casio “All Metal” G-Shock) but if you like the idea of wearing something completely unique and easily recognizable, you’ll want to, uh, borrow twenty grand and buy one!

1975 Pontiac Catalina Safari: When Wagons Ruled

Once upon a time in the 1970s, most moms hauled their kids around, not in silver silvermist combover pseudo-lux conveyances, but in large, ornate and oftentimes wood-sided station wagons. V8, rear wheel driven, glorious station wagons.

The 1971-76 GM ‘clamshell’ station wagons were the biggest around when they debuted in Autumn 1970.

So called due to their ‘disappearing’ tailgate and rear window glass, they were available in the expected Chevy, Pontiac, Olds and Buick versions. And as usual, were available in higher-trimmed versions with Di-Noc woodgrain appliques along the sides, further accentuating their road-going Chris-Craft image.

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1980 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Diesel: A Survivor!

Do you remember the GM 5.7-liter Diesel? Even those of a certain age who haven’t directly experienced one undoubtedly have heard of them. My parents’ friends down at the marina had a Dark Jadestone 1982 Delta 88 Diesel coupe, and I can distinctly remember its lud-lud-lud-lud engine beat. The Werthmanns had good luck with that car, and kept it for 10 years. While theirs ran like a top, that wasn’t exactly the most common experience…

Oldsmobile was the pioneer in engineering GM’s Diesel V8. The engine was also available for the Cadillac Seville in 1978, and for the Eldorado, Fleetwood Brougham, Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille in 1979.

Despite many horror stories over the years, the much-maligned 5.7 Diesel, when properly maintained, could be reliable. However, many of the buyers of GM cars fitted with this engine were quite unfamiliar with the additional care and feeding diesel engines required vis a vis the gasoline V8s many of them traded off for one of these. As a result, many of them experienced headaches from their cars. The whole GM Diesel V8 episode turned many Americans off to Diesel engines for years. Though by 1982 they had been reengineered and as a whole were much less needy. But by them it was too late; people were staying away.

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