Sometimes A Great Notion, Sometimes Not

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.

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A Bit Of Family History, Found

I was probably one of the last people in my city to join Facebook, approximately five years ago. I soon found there was a lot of what Hunter S. Thompson would have called fear and loathing on the site, but I refined my friends list and groups to focus primarily on actual people I knew, people I didn’t know but who were gearheads, Italian restaurants, and various and sundry Cadillac, Lincoln and Broughamesque car groups. As a result I avoid about 98.3% of the typical FB angst, and it has worked pretty well.

At any rate, sometimes things come out of left field. Early this year I was contacted by a lady in Arkansas, Lisa Harding Jepko. What she had to say was pretty interesting:

Hi, this sounds crazy, but as a hobby, I buy old pictures from auctions and estates. Then I try research the families in the pictures. I believe I have one of your great great grandfather…”

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Jakub Józef Orliński: “Vedro con mio diletto” from Il Giustino (Antonio Vivaldi)

There are times when I think that a music-business story is “too good to fact-check,” and this is one of them. Young counter-tenor Jakub Józef Orliński agreed to substitute for an ensemble that could not appear for what Orliński believed would be the radio-only live broadcast of an outdoor afternoon concert in the south of France. The New Yorker picks up the story (after mentioning that Orliński was, on the day of the concert, nursing a mild hangover):

Orliński put on baggy shorts and beat-up sneakers, and rolled up the sleeves of a crumpled tattersall shirt: this was radio, after all, and it was ninety degrees outside. Only when he and his pianist, Alphonse Cémin, who was in shorts and flip-flops, arrived at the recording venue—a courtyard with a small audience—did they learn that the performance was also to be streamed on Facebook Live. It was too late for Orliński to change clothes, and so he sang just as he was—unshaved, and dressed as if ready for a day of sleeping it off under the Provençal plane trees.

This is obviously a superb job of singing; the YouTube view count of 4.7 million views is something I find very heartening. That’s in part because counter-tenors are in a way like harpsichords. In both cases, at times there seems to be a parity between the numbers of people who can enjoy the sound, and those who feel compelled to flee from it. And in that regard, I would have preferred a Baroque continuo rather than a Steinway grand (Vivaldi’s opera dates from 1724), but the piano accompaniment is very sensitive. And one must keep in mind that Orliński was substituting on less than 24 hours’ notice. (I do crack up every time I see the “page turner” reach up and touch the iPad.) Also, for an outdoor concert, what a lovely recording job! More, after the jump.
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If I Am Not For Myself, Who Will Be For Me?

Hebrew MAGA מאגא Donald Trump Yarmulke Kippah Red Leather image 0

מאַכן אַמעריקע גרויס אביסל Machen America Grois Abissel

For the past three years some of my fellow Jews have been telling me that I’m not a very good Jew because I happened to vote for the presidential candidate of a major American political party. Putting aside the possible naivete in my beliefs that we live in a good country filled with mostly decent people, regardless of their political ideologies, and that it’s virtually impossible for a truly monstrous person to get through the years-long vetting process of getting nominated, let alone elected, I’m a bit perplexed. The last time I looked, not one of the 613 commandments (yeah, there are way more than the big ten) that God gave the Jews in the Torah obligates me to vote for a particular person or party.

Even more perplexing is the fact that the Jews telling me that I’m not a good Jew hold mutually contradicting beliefs about Jewish identity and for the most part are nearly complete ignoramuses about Judaism, Jewish culture and Jewish history.
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Just A Quick Note…

As I type this, some amazing food is cooking in my folks’ kitchen, and in just a bit it will be time for a cocktail. The temperature is remarkably nice for northwest Illinois on this Christmas afternoon. I washed the car in the driveway yesterday, something that has never happened before on Christmas Eve.

Wishing all the readers and contributors a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, or Wednesday afternoon, as the case may be. And thanks to Jack, for indulging my yakking about old land yachts, right here on RG. Cheers!

Why Is Nobody Making the Best Toaster Ever Made?

Being a harmonica enthusiast isn’t the only thing I have in common with Elwood Blues. I also love me some toasted bread, though I actually prefer egg challah with sweet butter and strawberry preserves, to dry, white toast. To make toast these days, most folks either use a toaster oven, which to me seems like overkill for just a couple of slices, or a pop-up electric toaster. While both of those will char bread quite adequately, I prefer to use the best bread toaster ever made, a Sunbeam Radiant Control toaster, in my case a model T-35, made sometime between 1958 and 1967, close to my own vintage.

While America was busy making rockets and inventing solid state integrated circuits to put men on the moon, an appliance company was using basic physics and mechanics to make an automatic toaster the likes of which has never been improved upon. Continue Reading →

In Which Your Author Tests His Patience Over A 53 Year Old Plastic Cadillac

Two Sundays ago I attended the twice-a-year model car/promo/kit swap meet and show in Countryside, IL, in suburban Chicagoland. As usual, I brought plenty of cash. As usual, I spent a lot of it. I got several nice Cadillac promos. One of them was this dark red 1966 Cadillac Coupe de Ville promo, which I got from my buddy Jim Smith. And all was well-until last night.

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Airstream Funeral Coach: A Hearse Made Worse

Note: My buddy Tony LaHood emailed me yesterday and said, “Hey, how about running this for Halloween?” Who am I to argue? -TK

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Girls Need Their Own Place To Play Sports, Free From Male Hormones And Organs

Being a parent nowadays is a constant battle of holding onto and trying to instill the best of your Generation X values in a world that is doing everything possible to rip them away. No, I don’t believe all the things that I believed in 1996, but some things just remain true, no matter what.

Here’s a great example. My daughter, Regan, is playing soccer this season on a pretty decent club team for a second year. I don’t talk about my daughter’s soccer anywhere near as much as I talk about my son’s, and that’s because she isn’t 1/100th as serious about it. She quit for a year when she was seven, but started again because she likes going to soccer camp in the summer and playing the fun games that they play. More than anything, she likes the social aspect of the game, and, of course, she has fun when they win.

She’s scored approximately 3 goals in the last three seasons combined. The most significant event that’s happened during this fall soccer season, according to her, is her acquisition of a pale blue, 40-ounce, wide-mouth Hydro Flask (sksksksk). God, I just linked to Vox. Anyway.

Of the nine girls on her team (they play 7-on-7), she is no better than sixth-best, and possibly as low as ninth, depending on the day and her motivation. She plays the fifty percent that is required by the club, but not a minute more, as the coach (rightfully) opts to play girls who are more skilled, focused, and intense about the game, and she doesn’t mind. But yesterday, she had a bit of a moment.

She was marking a girl on a throw-in, and this girl was easily half a head taller than Regan, if not more. The bigger girl, sensing that the slightly-too-concerned-with-her-hair girl guarding her might be an easy mark, shoved her hard and called for the ball. Something snapped inside of Regan, and you could see the look on her face change as she lowered her shoulder and charged directly into the other girl’s abdomen, knocking her off balance and almost off the pitch. I think the referee was too shocked to call anything. All of the parents gasped in unison, and then laughed and cheered for her.

That night, over a chocolate chip cookie, Regan informed me that “It’s fun to shove people!” and that she couldn’t wait for the next game to do it some more.

Girls need these moments.

They need to be able to compete on fair and equal ground with other girls in athletics. They need the chance to take leadership roles that will translate from the pitch to the boardroom. They deserve the opportunity to create healthy, active habits that they will carry through their lives, regardless if they ever play a sport past high school. They deserve to know what it’s like to have the chance to win championships, to hold the trophy high above their ahead and celebrate a victory into the small hours of the morning.

Unfortunately, there are a group of science deniers who seem to think that it’s fair to rob girls of these opportunities.

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No, Hasbro, Hedy Lamarr Did Not Invent WiFi, or Cellphones for the Matter

Image result for ms monopoly hedy lamarr

The Hasbro toy company owns the Monopoly brand and of late its been trying to extend that brand with special editions like the Star Wars Monopoly I got my adult son for Chanukah last year. More recently, they’ve tried their hands at satire, with parody editions like Monopoly for Cheaters, Monopoly for Millenials, and Monopoly Socialism. That last parody hit the mark so close to the bulls’ eye that a socialist college professor went on a Twitter rant about how inaccurately it portrayed his favorite political/economic system. A lot of the special editions are exclusive to the Target chain and after the Marxist professor’s rant went viral, much to his chagrin, I’m sure, Monopoly Socialism sold out on the Target website, with the $19.99 game going for as much as $80 on eBay. I myself managed to find five copies at a local Target, gave one to my son, kept another for me, and flipped the rest, more than doubling my money. I love the smell of monetizing SJW hate.

Hasbro’s latest version of Monopoly isn’t a parody, however. Ms. Monopoly is all about You Go Girlism, encouraging girls to become inventors and entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, it perpetuates a number of myths, Continue Reading →