(Double) Weekly Roundup: A Sign Of The Times Edition

Rent will not be “cancelled”. It will be paid by the federal government printing money like a khat-gobbling Zimbabwean warlord and giving it to those landlords willing to accept 80 cents on the dollar after extensive paperwork. We are doing this while jobs go unfilled everywhere. Like at Firestone, where after two hours no one could be found to crank a wrench for $60 labor cost per tire.

That’s the situation in Van Nuys, but who cares if you don’t live there? Ah, you might care because all of California is simply a TV show about what will be common/popular/mandatory in flyover country someday. Maybe. Meanwhile in sunny Traverse City, Michigan, there is this: A sign begging people to treat Burger King workers with decency.

We should be doing that anyway. One of my co-workers, a woman who grew up dirt-poor in China and is fourteen years younger than I am but who now exceeds my career luminosity by the sort of calculable-but-incomprehensible amount that separates the mass of our local Sun from that of VV Cephei, says that I am overpolite to waitresses, fast-food counterpeople, supermarket checkers. “They probably think you’re making fun of them or something, you’re so formal about it.” Had to explain to her that the ghost of my father could appear at any moment to keelhaul me for being a mumbling, floor-staring eleven-year-old, and that therefore it’s necessary to have the precise correctness of Robert Crawley, 7th Earl of Grantham, while patiently repeating for the ninth time, to someone who could not possibly care less about the quality of their work: Ah, it is possible I neglected to mention the fact that I wanted this cheeseburger plain, would you be willing to shoulder the burden of correcting this situation which I am certain is my fault, having made my previous eight requests on the subject in a manner that simply wasn’t a good “culture fit” for you, or was simply too quiet to penetrate the Future-und-Weeknd audio curtain laid in by the $299 iPods you wear at work?

Can’t help it. I’ve worked too many dishwater-dull, dishwasher-poor jobs myself to have any natural high-handedness when it comes to service-industry workers. In this, I am apparently rare. And the mechanism by which Burger King rage is engendered should teach us a bit about the way we live now.

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Spotter’s Guide To Issue #69 of Hagerty Drivers Club

Let’s face it: we live in an era where almost all of the internet “autojournalism” is done by people who have little to no understanding of how to design, build, sell, drive, or repair an automobile. Does it matter? Maybe not — but my three-Viper drive in this month’s issue of HDC, coupled with Don Sherman’s outstanding and detailed technical explainer, should serve as the most cogent case I can make for the idea that it does.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Total Eclipse Of The Sprezzatura Edition

Let’s start this week with a brief clarification, for those of you who came in late. I never thought it needed saying, but given the content of an e-mail that just got sent to my employer, I suppose it does. The name of this site is Riverside Green, after the drab Columbus, Ohio neighborhood in which my brother and I spent some of our formative years. Most of you get to it via jackbaruth.com, but some of you use jackandbark.com as well. This site significantly predates my association with Hagerty, my marriage, and most of my freelance writing relationships. I launched it as a WordPress blog in March of 2013, almost exactly eight and a half year ago. Since then we have served 4.7 million articles to approximately 1500-2000 readers a day. We served ads for a while, but now we keep the (very dim) lights on thanks to a partnership with Shinola. Thank you for visiting and reading.

I don’t write everything you read here; about two-thirds of the posts are mine. The rest are done by guest and recurring contributors like my brother, Tom Klockau, Ronnie Schreiber, and others. It is fairly common for Tom, in particular, to publish the contributions of other automotive enthusiasts under his byline; when that happens, he identifies that person in the opening paragraph.

All of this has to be said because apparently it’s not obvious from a perusal of the site. For what it’s worth, I assure you that my brother, Tom, Ronnie, and other people who contribute here are absolutely real and not figments of my imagination, nor are they pseudonyms I use so I can write more often.

Good talk. Let’s continue on another topic.

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1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman: Maximum Broughamage

My friend and fellow Cadillac fanatic Jayson Coombes urgently texted me a link to this triple orange (technically Andes Copper) 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman the other day, the Broughamiest Brougham that ever Broughamed. Though no Brougham nomenclature was found on this Fleetwood special edition, available only in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

This one is currently being auctioned off on Hemmings, and has met its reserve of $20,000 already. A really remarkably nice example, judging from the photos. Continue Reading →

Spotter’s Guide To Issue 5, 2021 of Bicycling, With Gallery And Notes

Call it luck, call it work, call it an odious combination of Little League parenting, Great Santini behavior, and Machiavellian manipulation — but if you look at pages 65 and 66 of this month’s Bicycling magazine, you’ll find photos (and some words!) from my son, making his print debut for Hearst/Rodale at the precocious age of just-turned-twelve.

It, ah, took some doing.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: A Gilded Seat For The Unraveling Edition

It was very popular in midwit circles, for a while, to talk about “the end of history”. A remarkably stupid man wrote a remarkably stupid book about it. There was an even more stupid song on the topic. “Right here, right now… watching the world wake up from history.” Perhaps you’ve heard the song used to sell you Pepsi or Truvada or Dogecoin.

The idea behind “the end of history” was based on some remarkable naivete regarding human nature. It stated, more or less, that the arc of history bent inevitably toward liberal democracy, and that therefore all societies would move inexorably in that direction until they reached the blessed state of liberal democracy, at which point there would be no more broad change in that area, and therefore no more “history”. Like “climate science”, this was ex post facto theorizing based on the relative stability of the United States and the Western democracies between 1960 and 1990, coupled with the seemingly-inevitable-in-retrospect collapse of the Warsaw Pact.

Let’s consider 2021 to be a massive comeback for the idea of plain old history, and I’m talking George Foreman, or possibly Michael Jordan, levels of comeback here. It is happening on the periphery of the civilized world, where a puppet Afghani “democracy” simply vanished like fog in the face of a few thousand men with worn-out AK-74s and the will to use them. It is happening in the very center of today’s civilized world, as China uses technological methods to tighten the grasp of its Uniparty on internal dissent even as it prepares to do whatever it wants internationally.

As for America, the place where history was the first to end? Why, it’s simply… unraveling. This past week, I’ve had a front row seat from which to watch the process.

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2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge: Current Affair

So this afternoon I found myself over at McLaughlin Motors, shooting the breeze with my salesman friend, Brian Cox. We were talking about everything from the chip shortage to preferred vodka brands, and he mentioned, have you driven the electric XC40 version? I had not. “Well hang on, I’ll bring one around.”

And thus did I drive my first electric vehicle. I am not enamored of electric vehicles. A meme making the rounds lately on social media is when you run out of juice on I-55, you won’t be able to borrow a can of electricity to get back to your destination. Nope. You’ll need a flatbed most likely, to take you to a dealer or recharge station (which might be easy on the West coast but is somewhat more problematic in the Midwest) and hope you didn’t damage anything running it flat.

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1992 Mitsubishi Mighty Max: I’ll Take Odd Vehicle Names for $500, Alex

When’s the last time you saw one of these? I had actually forgotten about these trucks until I saw this one several years back, off of Brady Street in uptown Davenport, IA. The Mistubishi Mighty Max (née L200) ended its U.S. run 25 years ago. Today, few are left here in the salty Midwest, so I had to stop and investigate.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Delta Farce Edition

Admit it, if only to yourself: When Joe Biden, ah, obviously and ethically won the safest and most secure election in human history, you might not have liked the outcome — but weren’t you at least tempted to breathe a sigh of relief at the prospect of an end to America’s full-court-press Kulturkampf? I know I was. Too many of the people in my social circles had spent the past four years suffering from an unstoppable compulsion to display their hatred for President Trump in each and every aspect of their life, a political Tourette’s if you will. When they weren’t actively complaining about Trump, they complained about Trump’s supporters, those rural Morlocks who clung to guns, religion, and the Cummins 5.9-liter diesel.

I’d hoped that we would return to some civility in the American discourse — but that was remarkably naive of me. Instead, we are hearing demands for “truth and reconciliation” commissions, watching the current legislature fiddle an insane vendetta against both Trump and his supporters while the economy burns, and observing as the violent rhetoric of last summer’s “protests” is used to dehumanize everyone to the right of Snowball/Trotsky/Goldstein.

The truth is that you cannot easily re-bottle the lightning of political violence, at least not when it is so deeply satisfying and thoroughly consequence-free to wield it indiscriminately. The latest target of said viciousness, of course, is that group of people known collectively as “the unvaccinated”. They’re already being set up as the scapegoat for everything from rampant stagflation to the proliferation of COVID variants. Every op-ed page in the country is mulling over the various manners in which the un-vaxed might be compelled to accept a “jab”. There’s plenty of soft selling going on, some of it disturbing: Reddit is running ads in which a blonde woman tells viewers that “it is your right to vaccinate your twelve-year-old children”. There’s some carrot/sticking happening, particularly in New York City. And then there is the chorus that is openly demanding forcible vaccination of the entire population.

How fair and reasonable is any of this, particularly in light of the increasing body of COVID knowledge?

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Sunday Story (on a Friday): Take Me Back

“I’ve come to realize something about you,” Valerie said slowly and surely into her FaceTime camera, carefully holding the phone to ensure that she was showing the very best angle of her visage. She was beautiful, no doubt, but 33 wasn’t treating her as well as 28 had, and even in moments like these, she was careful to make sure that she presented herself as elegantly as possible.

Staring back at her through the single crack on the screen of her iPhone 7 was the plain but handsome, older but youthful face of a man who was desperately, hopelessly in love with her. She knew that what she was about to say—what she had rehearsed saying in her mind dozens of times since she had last seen him just 24 hours ago—was going to destroy him.

But so fucking what? Valerie had been destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again in the three years she and Paul had been together, and mostly by his doing. Through all of it, she had loved him. Defended him. Even protected him.

Paul had a bad habit of lying to protect her, but she could handle that. She knew that he needed to lie to her sometimes. Dating a man who traveled for a living and likely had a girl in every proverbial port before he met her…she didn’t want to know about all of that. But there was the one time he hadn’t lied, and that was the one she could never forgive him for. And that’s why she had to say what she was about to say.

“I’ve realized that while I will always love you—deeply, from the bottom of my heart—I’ve realized that I don’t love you romantically.”

There. She had said it. It was done.

Just saying it wasn’t enough, though. That’s why this call was a FaceTime. That’s why she had to see him break as she said it. Because if he was broken, she’d feel better about being broken.

And that’s why when Paul’s face cracked, ever so slightly, just long enough for a single tear to escape his eye, she finally felt the relief that had been missing from her life for so very long.

“Okay,” he said. Because what else could he say? He tried to smile, but that tear had betrayed him. “I understand.”

All the times they had been on and off, will they/won’t they, are they/aren’t they over the past three years, she had never been able to say that. But even in that moment, she wasn’t sure that it was true.

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