Weekly Roundup: Not Standing Pat Edition

If you’re been reading me for any length of time between 1991 and 2019, you likely know that I am a longtime admirer of, and listener to, the fusion/jazz/whatever-guitarist Pat Metheny. I’ve seen him in concert a dozen times at least, have bought one copy (or more) of pretty much every recording he’s ever made, own hundreds of hours’ worth of bootlegs and mixer-deck tapes from his concerts. I have T-shirts, sealed-and-signed vinyl albums, posters, and 24k-plated Japanese-market-only hi-def CDs. He has published three books of music; I bought, read, and played them. Hell, I even own a book of interviews with the fellow.

Earlier this year, I went to see Pat’s “Side Eye” tour and it was, charitably speaking, a mess — an indifferent setlist where both of his sidemen had music on the bandstand and were visibly uncomfortable with the material. This in no way diminished my willingness to buy front-row tickets again in the future. Everybody has a bad gig once in a while.

The email I received yesterday, on the other hand…

It started promisingly enough:

…It is unlikely that the recordings of the CTI label of that time would likely never be thought of as “avant-garde” by garden variety jazz critics of that (or probably any other) era. But from my seat as a young fan, the idea of an excellent and experienced arranger like Don Sebesky taking the improvised material of great musicians like Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter and weaving their lines and voicings into subsequent orchestration was not only a new kind of arranging; it resulted in a different kind of sound and music.

Well, that’s great! I’m a huge fan of the CTI sound. What else does Pat have to say about this new record?

, I felt that the essence of this music was so American in nature that if it were in any way possible, it needed to be done here in the States – and in Los Angeles in particular.

Outstanding! Made In The USA! Let’s keep reading…

On November 8, 2016, our country shamefully revealed a side of itself to the world that had mostly been hidden from view in its recent history. I wrote the piece From This Place in the early morning hours the next day as the results of the election became sadly evident.

Oh shit, he’s caught TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome).

There was only one musician who I could imagine singing it, and that was Meshell Ndegocello, one of the great artists of our time. With words by her partner Alison Riley, they captured exactly the feeling of that tragic moment while reaffirming the hope of better days ahead.

Ah, Pat, you have a lot of nerve to even mention Better Days Ahead in this context. Also, calling Ndegocello “one of the great artists of our time” would be like calling Courtney Love “America’s greatest female guitarist”.

That said, as I approach 50 years of recording and performing, while looking back on all the music I have been involved in, I am hard-pressed to immediately recall in retrospect the political climate of the time that most of it was made in. And if I can, the memories of those particulars seem almost inconsequential to the music itself.
.
The currency that I have been given the privilege to trade in over these years put its primary value on the timeless and transcendent nature of what makes music music.
.
Music continually reveals itself to be ultimately and somewhat oddly impervious to the ups and downs of the transient details that may even have played a part in its birth. Music retains its nature and spirit even as the culture that forms it fades away, much like the dirt that creates the pressure around a diamond is long forgotten as the diamond shines on.
.
I hope this record might stand as a testament to my ongoing aspiration to honor those values.

So, to paraphrase: “This jazz record doesn’t really have much to do with Trump. But it’s important to me that you understand I despise both Trump and the basket of deplorables who elected him.”

Truth be told, I would be just as annoyed if I were in an alternate universe and I got an email from Charlie Daniels telling me that he was writing music in response to the election of Hillary Clinton. I don’t see the point in calling an election “shameful” simply because one multi-millionaire New Yorker got elected instead of another. Furthermore, it is deliberately divisive to do so. I wasn’t thrilled by the election, or the re-election, of Barack Obama — but I didn’t send a mass-marketing email to all my readers on the subject, nor did I engage in claptrapping about how it “revealed” a “shameful” side of America.

There’s a lot I’d like to say to Pat in response. I’d like to say that the idea of “a side of the country” being “shamefully hidden” is in fact only true if you’re a millionaire with a Manhattan penthouse and a wife who burns your cash on the New York art and social circuits. The fact that about half of the United States was effectively disenfranchised until recently is not something to celebrate; it’s this close to talking cheerfully about having thirty years of permanent revolution, or praising the Dear Leader. I would like to tell him that whining about a free and fair election is never admirable. I’d like to point out that Mr. Trump, unlike Mrs. Clinton, has exhibited very little bloodthirsty desire for combat, and that his remarkable disinclination to meddle militarily in foreign affairs has saved the lives of many young men from Ohio, Indiana, and Metheny’s home state of Missouri, even if they didn’t notice the difference in the rehearsal halls of Berklee (or Berkeley).

Most of all, however, I’d like to ask him exactly what he hoped to gain from this all-too-obvious pandering. Does he really think that the entire world is exactly like his social scene in New York? Does he think that he is playing to an exclusive audience of progressives when he visits Dayton, Ohio or Lexington, Kentucky? What is gained by deliberately antagonizing a major percentage of his audience, and what is lost?

In this case, what’s lost is $23.99, which is the price of the 2-LP set I’d have bought on Day One, plus the two dozen or so concerts I’d likely attend between now and his retirement, plus all future recordings, reissues, and merchandise. Let’s say it rounds up to five grand. What I’ll do instead is stream the new album on Spotify, which will pay him $0.006 per stream. If I listen to the whole thing a hundred times, that’s eight and a half bucks, max. More likely I’ll listen to it ten times, which will be eighty-four cents. Will Metheny miss my five thousand dollars? Probably not. I’ll enjoy spending it somewhere else regardless.

Perhaps the key to Pat’s attitude can be found in this hugely important, and fascinating interview between a conservative-thinking Jewish liberal and a classical-liberal Catholic conservative. Neither has much affection for Mr. Trump — but they understand how his election came to pass, and the very real sickness affecting this country’s so-called “elite”. Most of all, it’s quite interesting to see the two of them discuss the manner in which each generation deliberately sabotages the “meritocratic” generation after it. Prior to 1965, you could count on the fact that people would deliberately get out of the way of their successors, both in their careers and in society as a whole. The current elite, on the other hand, poisons the well of their potential successors while mortgaging the future to China, all to prolong their unparalleled and unprecedented bliss just a few more years. It’s not a situation which can prevail indefinitely. There will a response, one that will bring the powerful to their knees. So may it secretly begin.

* * *

At Hagerty, I drove a Z4, considered the problems at Nissan, and tried a front-drive Bimmer.

Brother Bark dealt with offering some real-life advice.

70 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Not Standing Pat Edition”

  1. Avatarrambo furum

    This amuses me because this morning I was mentally rating the article topics on this site, and I put the musical ones on the very bottom. The name Pat Metheny came to mind, despite me knowing nothing of him but that JB recommends him. I didn’t even know he did jazz, but that makes sense as I find jazz to not even really be music. I have now almost finished listening to whatever the first search hit for him was, something off this new album, and unsurprisingly I am underwhelmed. I don’t get the appeal. It is somewhere between elevator and movie soundtrack music.

    But I’ll look into the reading suggestions. I’ve tended to like those. And yeah, I have no idea what the loonies that still haven’t got over Hillary losing are on about. One would think the supporters of candidate Trump would be the ones most devastated and dismayed.

    Reply
    • Avatardejal

      Music to me is a more or less repeatable set of sounds. Even bad music is music. Most jazz (to me, I’m a Philistine, so sue me) sounds like “Live” entertainment in some bar at a Holiday Inn right off of a on/off ramp on the Jersey Turnpike. To each their own.

      Now blues, that a something else. That’s good music.

      I prefer MY artists to agree with me or at the very least keep their mouths shut, preferably the later. When you hold me in contempt you can go screw.

      Which is why a lot of entertainment franchises are currently circling the drain. Many may still pull in big money, but they used to pull in BIG money.

      Reply
  2. Avatartoly arutunoff

    gosh! to think I never even wondered what Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson thought about politics. I vaguely remember Artie shaw waxing philosophical about social topics but that was a looong time ago

    Reply
  3. AvatarTrucky McTruckface

    Whenever I hear a musician spouting their (usually tediously leftist and, post 2016, triggered anti-Trump) political views, I think of Alice Cooper, who, in addition to being an all-around cool dude, has for years been vehemently apoliical and eloquently on the subject of how unqualified musicians are to preach politics:

    “When I was a kid and my parents started talking about politics, I’d run to my room and put on the Rolling Stones as loud as I could. So when I see all these rock stars up there talking politics, it makes me sick… If you’re listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you’re a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we’re morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal.”

    Reply
  4. AvatarCliffG

    Considering that I spent most of election night of 2016 laughing my head off, I should probably not comment. Pauline Kael’s famous comment from 1972 is often misunderstood, she expounded on what she meant if you bother to understand. I think the circumstance of today is that conservatives are necessarily bilingual, that is simply to live is to know what liberals are thinking. But for a liberal, one has to actually hunt for conservative thought, and that is not nearly as monolithic as mainstream leftism is today. Thus most liberals are left with the caricatures that other liberals paint conservatives. Sad for Mr. Methany really, he is so wrapped in his own fantasies of what conservatives are that he is disinterested in the reality. Oh well.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Jonathan Haidt’s research (who is a Leftist academic) finds that Leftists have absolutely no understanding of the Right’s political and economic viewpoints, but merely dismiss them as evil, while those on the Right are generally very able to accurately describe the Leftist viewpoint. This is likely due to the point you make as the educational, media, and entertainment fields are 95% Leftist that makes escaping exposure to it virtually impossible for the Right.

      Reply
  5. Avatarandyinsdca

    GODDAMMIT I HATE YOU SO MUCH. The song they released yesterday is fookin lush and wonderful. I was really looking forward to the album (though the song title, “America Undefined” is a bit odd, but no weirder than any other title of PM’s).
    I’ve been a fan of Pat’s since Still Life (talking) (another weird title) when I saw the video for “Last Train Home” on VH1’s Jazz New Visions. A bunch of his songs mean a lot to me as they came at important times in my life. I’ve been to a bunch of his concerts and remember sitting rapt as he, Antonio, Lyle and Steven blew the roof off the theater doing “As it Is.”
    Now. It’s. All. Ruined.
    Thank you. Really, I had no idea he was such a lefty/TDS guy. This makes me sad. Oh well, thanks for the memories, Pat.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Looking back, the signs were always there… “This Is Not America” was a Reagan-era song, while several of his song titles during the W administration verged on the political. And given that he was close with Charlie Haden, who is to the left of Trotsky, it makes sense.

      Pat has always been a little tough to adore personally. The way he treated Mark Ledford before Led’s death was the definition of uncool. And he basically drove Paul Wertico out of the music business out of stubbornness. I still want someone to play “Have You Heard” at my funeral.

      Reply
    • Avatarjc

      Does he still slather that horrible “ooh ooh ooh” synth pad over every.single.thing.he.records?

      Sorry, I’ve tried on multiple occasions to grasp Metheny’s appeal but I’m never able to get past the apparent lack of content. If I want content-free music I’ll listen to some good old fashioned rock and roll. If I want to listen to jazz I’ll go for someone like Thelonious Monk, Mingus, Roland Kirk, or alternately Bix, Fats, Duke, Louis, or on the other hand Ornette, Leon Parker, etc., etc.

      I dunno. There are some things that people I generally respect just go ga-ga over that I simply cannot stand and I cannot figure out what the heck they see in those things.

      Reply
  6. AvatarJohn C.

    On Nissan, interesting the rather flip advise that they walk away from all the Rogue, Altima, and Sentra volume, I think I have those in the right order, that they still have because they have minimal cash flow. The same advise may have gone out to the big three 20 years ago with light on profits names like Grand Am, Neon, and Tempo. After all “enthusiasts” sneer and what else matters. A lot actually.

    Well a lot of people are employed from that volume and what are people to drive who don’t qualify for douchebag cool imports and can’t bring themselves to drive plumbers trucks or the Hindustan Ambassadors that you might prefer them in.. You should think about what you are suggesting before you throw it out there. It may seem fun to participate in the destruction of an imperfect institution. Destroying it, however does not make room for something better. It is just gone, and more regular people’s lives are hollowed out. Sure this time mostly in Mexico and Japan, but that doesn’t make it okay.

    Those of you at Nissan in charge of Sentras. Keep at it. Make it go as long as possible. Many are depending on you.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      This was a nimble transition on your part from “Japanese cars have no culture and are subsidized attacks on America” to “Keep on pushing those Sentras out the door, Saikawa-san!”

      Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Would anyone miss Nissan if they disappeared from the US? Outside of some long ago 510s and early Z cars, Nissan (Datsun) has no history that very many will look back at with great nostalgia or longing, and virtually everything in their current/recent line-up is sold solely on the basis of sub-prime credit or subsidies (Leaf). There is no Nissan purchase that couldn’t readily be substituted with a purchase from another brand that would offer equal or superior quality in all respects. Furthermore, given their weak financials and lack of management talent, it is difficult to see how Nissan would ever escape their malaise of poor brand image and lackadaisical dealer network and product mix. Sure some Nissan dealers and Nissan manufacturing employees in Tennessee would be hurt in the short-term, but under the Trump economy with 3% unemployment these losses would quickly get absorbed as other more vibrant and viable brands take over the Nissan infrastructure. Like Mitsubishi and Fiat (and perhaps Buick, Acura, Chrysler, Infiniti, and Alfa), Nissan is a dead-brand walking towards extinction in the US market.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        You sir, you and your thousands of employees are the weakest link. Our self appointed masters have decided that your customers don’t deserve new cars with warrantees that was your niche. No one who matters will miss you. Your employees that rely on you are losers in this but so be it. Now line up and say your prayers…..Pow, Pow, Pow…

        Now the rest of you go in peace… until Jack or Brock Yates or Csaba Csere or Jean Lindamoud need another thought piece and are in a bad mood.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I feel like something should be explained to you. The original “modest proposal” was written by Swift. In it, he argued that Ireland’s economic problems could be solved by selling some children into slavery and eating the rest. He then caustically lists a number of things that the Irish are unwilling to do because they are too hard, and suggests that they might as well eat their children since they cannot do those hard things.

          Therefore, any literate Westerner understands a “modest proposal” to be a satirical statement of extreme action to be taken in place of reasonable measures.

          Hope that helps you understand the article a little better.

          Reply
          • AvatarJohn C.

            You have taught me something Jack. Now you should explain it to fellow members of your car writing fraternity and now I guess sorority. Because this automaker should die crap is a common genre in your profession that has nothing whatever to do with Jonathon Swift.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Controversy sells ads but more pertinently there is a sense that very few automakers will survive to the year 2040 and it would be nice if at least one of them sold enthusiast vehicles.

          • AvatarCarmine

            What I really love is his “rah rah rah go team USA murrica f’k yeah” American car support and the dumbass drives a fucking Volvo, I stopped trying to have any type of meaningful discussion with him because you can’t win an argument with someone who is a delusional and or crazy……

          • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

            Isn’t Nissan already doing to ‘lean into’ affordable cars with the Versa and Versa Note? The payments on a either would be fairly reasonable for a first time buyer.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            Both cars are the subject of massive class action lawsuits related to the unreliable and unsafe operation of their (in most cases mandatory) CVTs.

          • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

            Well, that makes an ‘affordable’ car less affordable.

            The CVT drives like crap, but at least it’s not reliable.

          • AvatarTexn

            Wait, John drives a Chi-Com Vulva? That explains very much. Unless it’s a 760 Turbo, he is just another left field nut job.

      • Avatarjc

        Well, when I’ve test driven Nissan cars, they always seem like big empty tinny noisy boxes. The difference in general feeling of “niceness” between the Nissan and the comparable competitive cars is usually pretty stark. They may be reliable and have good performance, but the aesthetics of the driving are just unimpressive.

        Reply
  7. AvatarCJinSD

    Maybe you should have suggested selling Nissan customers as a carbon-positive source of animal protein to enrich the diets of high net worth individuals. Readers of the Economist would have struggled to identify it as satire.

    Reply
  8. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    I’ve grown weary of listening to actors, musicians, novelist’s,ball players,etc, spouting political views that they feel are more important than anyone else’s. They live in their own little bubble’s that are certainly not populated by “common folks”. In years past I was a Jimmy Buffet fan. Not because he was a great musical genius but because his concerts were always a good time. I wasn’t a Parrothead, but when he played a show locally, I would go. New album, I bought it. These days? I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire. Same with Steven King. I enjoyed his books because as grand pappy used to say, “he spun a good yarn”. In the past couple years, I have gotten rid of the memorabilia and collectable books I acquired (mostly by mistake). If you feel that my political views are wrong, beneath contempt even, then I have no need to contribute to your fortune (which far exceeds mine).

    As an older friend of mine says, “F*#K ‘um and feed “um fish heads”.

    Reply
    • Avatarsgeffe

      I was going to mention Jimmy Buffet. If given an opportunity to go to a concert locally, I’d consider it, at least until he went head-over-heels for Bereft Insane Osama.

      I could also tolerate some of Bruce Springsteen’s stuff until 2008 happened.

      Reply
  9. Avatarstingray65

    The problem today is that the Leftists demand a political statement in support of their Stalinist beliefs, otherwise they will protest, sue, deplatform, boycott, fire, or physically attack you for being a racist, nazi, sexist, deplorable. Meanwhile the Center and Right tend to be “live and let live” and will continue to buy from Leftist entertainers and entrepreneurs who provide a product they enjoy, while silently voting for “deplorable” candidates such as Trump. This silent Center-Right majority is the only thing keeping the US from becoming a totalitarian state that Leftism always leads to.

    Reply
    • Avatarhank chinaski

      (in best Yoda voice) ‘And that is why you fail.’ The left plays to win. ‘Live and let live’ got us to where we are now.
      ‘Vote harder’.

      I recall Neil Peart having to essentially renounce the Ayn Rand themes in his early work in an interview, and claim to now be a ‘bleeding heart libertarian’. OK Boomer.

      Reply
  10. AvatarTyler

    I for one would love to see Infiniti work some late life magic in the 370Z. Then again I alone seen to think the RC-F is compelling so…

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The RC-F is a GREAT CAR. The Track Edition even more so. The problem is price and pace for the price, but I’ve enjoyed every single moment I’ve ever spent driving one.

      Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      Wasn’t the G37 coupe pretty much that? a 2+2 370 with nicer trim? The other day I day dreamed what an Infininti sports car could have been back in 1990, based on a 2+2 twin turbo Z with the funky clean styling of the original Q45, thats sound way more interesting to me and it would have given Infinity some needed excitement and a competitor to the SC400 too.

      Reply
  11. AvatarKen

    1992… 2.4L “Altima Sedan”? I owned one of those exotics, back when they were Stanzas, in a manual. A surprisingly fun little reliable car.

    Reply
    • AvatarJohn C.

      Imagine the fun you might have had and the reliability you would have enjoyed in a 92 manual 3.1 Corsica, a manual 2.5 Spirit or a manual 3.0 92 Tempo. You might have saved a little as well, but perhaps found them not boxy enough. Those were long ago killed by asleep at the switch politicians and asinine auto writers. I guess in was inevitable that the writers would eventually come for your Altima with no Americans left to kill. Once you have tasted blood….

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        I should mention that I bought my mother a ’93 Topaz stick shift. It was not trouble free. We got our moneys worth and more out of the ESP that I bought with it. Her 2008 Focus SEL has been considerably better.

        Reply
        • Avatarjc

          I test drove a ’87 Ford Tempo at the same time I ended up buying an ’87 Mazda 626.

          The Ford was more expensive, got worse fuel mileage, less horsepower, out of a larger engine, and as a brand new car on a test drive sounded like a bucket of bolts when I drove over a RR track.

          I drove the Mazda for 16 years. After about 10 years I never again saw a Ford Tempo.

          During the same time my parents had a Buick Century, a more expensive car. They had constant problems with fuel injector clogging. I never had a lick of trouble with that. The Buick was a nice driving car but it was constantly in the shop. Their next car (I was still plugging along with my Mazda) was a Park Avenue and that was a REALLY nice car when it wasn’t in the shop. My Mazda just kept on keeping on. I think I put less than $500 in repairs (as opposed to planned maintenance) in 16 years and 170,000 miles.

          The majority of my Japanese-car-driving friends have similar stories.

          You can argue about a few unicorn limit cases of unreliable Japanese cars of the 80s and 90s, and reliable American ones of the same period, but the truth is that over the aggregate of people who bought cars, and wanted the thing to start and run every damn time, and not eat them alive in costs, the Big Three designed and built away their market share by the crap they sold.

          Now tell me, again, why should I take the chance that one of the US names has got their act together in the intervening years? I need the thing to start and run every single day of the year. I depend on my automobile to earn a living. And I’ve already had a lifetime supply of lying on my back on a sheet of ice at 3 in the morning so I can get to work the next day, in the years before I bought that first Mazda.

          Reply
          • AvatarJohn C.

            How much extra did you pay for the 626 over the Tempo that you have no idea how long it would have lasted? That detail never seems part of these come to Jesus stories.

            You would have taken a big chance on a 626 auto in 1987. The overly small engine satled it with a 20.5 mph/1000 top gear. So you know, no highway, or if you do hearing loss. Congratulations! Never made the road tests that detail, wouldn’t fit the narrative.

        • AvatarJohn C.

          Probably lots of trouble with the manual transmission, a Mazda part. Oh wait, it couldn’t have been that, it doesn’t fit your narrative, Even if it was it was still Mercury’s fault for adding all that extra torque over the transmissions original Mazda applications.

          Reply
          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            The transmission in the 1993 Topaz is the original “Erica” World Car part. Come to think of it, the fact that a 1993 car was using a 1981 transmission is a bit of an issue… but no, it was the HVAC and the seatbelts, the starter and the alternator.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            The 1981 Escort was a Ford NA production, using the Ford Europe World Car as a basic and oft-ignored template. The Mazda of the time was the GLC and shared nothing with the Erica Escort platform. The co-mingling of Escort and 323 didnt happen until 1991.

          • AvatarJohn C.

            You should really not rely on wikki. They only admit the V6 version of the Escort transmission was Mazda which of course doesn’t make sense even if you didn’t know. The Fiesta FWD transmission used in Europe Escorts were not up to the North American bigger CVH engines, never mind the cut down Falcon engine in the Tempo. The 80s world cars suffered from not sharing as many parts as was hoped. The light duty stuff of Europe was not going to work with bigger engines that could have PS, AC, and AT. Europe couldn’t use the heavier duty stuff with their small engines as they so required light weight to work at all.

          • Avatarjc

            Well, I clearly stated that the 87 Mazda cost LESS than the 87 Ford Tempo It was the first new car I ever bought in my life, I’m unlikely to forget.

            I didn’t buy an auto transmission, it doesn’t make sense to buy an automatic tranmission in a small two door car with 120 HP. I never had a lick of trouble with the five speed. For that matter, when I sold the car with 170k on it, it still had the original clutch (I know how to drive.)

            I have no idea what the final drive ratio was in the Mazda. I had it up to 100 once. It seemed like it had a bit more in the hopper, but I didn’t have any more nerve.

            Your last sentence uses words drawn from English but seems to be written in some other language, could you translate please? (“Never made the road tests that detail, wouldn’t fit the narrative.”)

            At any rate, you have COMPLETELY missed the point of my story. 99.999% of car owners do not do exhaustive statistically verifiable research. And it’s impossible to run an experiment where in one of two alternate universes you buy the Japanese car in 1986 and in the other you buy the American car in 1986 and then apply the exact same conditions and compare the results 20 years later.

            The point of my story is that this is how people decide their buying choices. You can argue about what I experienced (which is always interesting since I was there and you weren’t), but the fact is that on a typical test drive characteristic of the way the typical person tests a car, I was unimpressed by the Ford, impressed by the Mazda; the specs of the Ford were worse than the Mazda; I paid a bit less for the Mazda; I got excellent service out of my choice. Why then, to satisfy your own particular theories about how I was in a fog of delusion then and for the subsequent 17 years I owned the thing, should I go against my own experience?

            The experience I had was typical of hundreds of thousands of people in teh same time frame. Do you REALLY think were all subjected to some kind of hypnopaedia to brainwash us into buying Japanese cars? No!!! People made buying choices based on their experiences and the experiences of people they talked to, and the experiences of the mid 80s through late 90s at least, were that the average American car was a cheap tinny poorly made piece of shit that fell apart – especially trim pieces – and spent a lot of time in the shop, and the average Japanese car was generally reliable.

            For most people, “always starts in the morning so I can get my ass to work” is criteria number one through five and all the rest is of limited interest. So it’s a bit noisy on the highway, big deal, my neighbor’s Buick or Dodge is in the shop all the time and this little rig is always ready to go.

    • AvatarCarmine

      I remember the first year Altimas still had a little “stanza” badge next to the Altima because of some sort of new model name registration deadline or something. Those first Altimas were a solid salvo into against the Camcord, Nissans first serious and successful midsize car that is now several generations old. A friend of mine had a beater early Stanza-Altima GXE as an airport beater and it was still a pretty nice car even being

      A manual Corsica with the V6, if you could have found one of the 3 they probably made would have had entertaining torquey FWD burnouts from the punch 3.1 but it wouldn’t have been as refined as the Atima as it really was a mid 80’s product that should have already been in its 2nd generation by now

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        His 92 Stanza was the boxy one that came out in 87. It had debuted with a 2.0 from the previous smaller, lighter Stanza that was way overmatched. In 1990 it was reengined with the 2.4 that moved much better and moved toward the American way of doing things. They weren’t selling Stanzas overseas with that motor. In 93, the Altima kept the 2.4 but moved to the melted styling of Gerry Hershberg, late of Buick and sales doubled. Still obviously a fake American car, but by then they were moving it in the right direction.

        Reply
          • Avatarjc

            “In Japan, the base engine was a 1.6 with 90 foot pounds of torque. They know best after all.”

            Have you ever been to Japan? I have, at least two dozen times.

            A 1.6l engine in Japan where the MOS inspection causes most cars to be junked after several years (can’t remember, seems like something like 8 years or so) is perfectly adequate. Don’t forget the gas prices there either. How much high speed highway driving do you think they do in Japan?

          • AvatarJohn C.

            Yes I have been to Japan. Glad you like the 1.6. Whatever our Japanese friends decided was optimum was of course ideal. They are of course better than us. They were doing us such a favor when they came to offer us an alternative to embarrassments produced by the big three. Our money is much better off in their hands because they deserve it and we do not.

            Now that I have repeated the party line. I will excuse myself from commenting further on this site. Enjoy your circle jerk.

          • Avatarjc

            Well, I would suggest that Japanese engineers and marketeers MIGHT be the best qualified to determine what base engine they want to offer, to Japanese customers, in Japan.

            As for the other bits of your posts, I really can’t figure out what you’re so mad about. NO, they Japanese auto companies did not “do us a favor”, they imported their products in the hope of selling a lot of them and making a pot of money.

            First time around, the products sucked. NO one bought them. They were largely withdrawn.

            Second time around, the products offered reasonable reliability and fuel economy at a time when most US cars did not. People bought a lot of them. The JPN automakers made a pot of money. Lots of Americans would have been plenty happy to put their money down on a chevy or Ford. But their recent experiences were that those cars broke down all the time. Their friends and family were getting excellent service from their Hondas, Toyotas, Datsuns, and Mazdas. So they tried something different and it worked out for them.

            I’m sorry, but I don’t see all this “oh they deserve the money more than we do” or whatever it is that you are all upset over, when I remember my own personal experience of the times. People who were sick of American cars not freaking working when they went out at 6:30 on a cold morning and needed to get to the job, tried something different and – son of a bitch – it always started! It didn’t strand you by the highway! It didn’t burn a quart of oil every 75 miles after 60k! It didn’t stall out when you pushed on the accelerator in the middle of an intersection! Were the materials thin? Was it noisy? Was it unrefined?
            Did you need to row the gearshift like you were going upstream? Yep, all of that. But when it was 20 degrees out and you needed to get going, the little bastard always got you there.

            Dr. Deming TRIED to sell his philosophy to Detroit. They weren’t listening. The US makers COULD have developed smallish fuel efficient cars. They COULD have done proper reliability analyses and wrung out their products so they were better in the real world. But they didn’t.

          • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

            John C says; “Now that I have repeated the party line. I will excuse myself from commenting further on this site. Enjoy your circle jerk.”

            Well, buh bye.

  12. AvatarDirt Roads

    Mt ex wife met Metheney once after a concert at the university she attended. She loved his music, was astonished how short he was, and they never once spoke of politics 🙂

    I started reading the article and thought “oh yeah, Metheny, I should download some of his stuff. Now it’s “naaaah” besides, the ex would think it “meant something.” Well yeah, it means I’m voting with my wallet as well as my actual voting.

    Reply
  13. Avatartracktardicus

    I will argue that if someone thinks either presidential candidate in the last election was a good choice, then he or she is choosing to ignore the facts. That said, I believe with conviction that Trump is entirely unfit to do the job he was elected to do, and if you disagree, then you too are choosing to ignore the facts.
    My point is, artists in general and Metheny in particular will often draw inspiration, or perhaps in this case, desperation, from political events that overtly influences artistic output, and maybe in this case Metheny felt obligated to voice this. And that is what it is all about, having a voice.
    Your decision to boycott Metheny’s music as a result of the voicing of his political beliefs is one of the root causes of the political climate today: You cannot separate his political beliefs from his artistry because those beliefs conflict with yours.
    My political beliefs diverge from yours on many issues, but I still continue to read your writing because I respect your writing talent, and I love motorsports. Your differing viewpoint is worthy of respect even though others might disagree with it; maybe you should consider providing that same respect to others who don’t see the world the way you see it.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Ah, this is exactly my point, although I’m not making it as well as you’re making it in the negative space, so to speak.

      I never thought Metheny and I shared a single political belief. I’ve read enough interviews with him, and have enough information about him, to know with utter certainty that he is not, as an example, an NRA Life Member.

      He’s free to support Hillary and still have what the Brits called “my custom”. He’d be free to play concerts at Hillary rallies. He’d be free to do what Charlie Haden did and write an album decrying the war in Iraq (https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5071301). I would never boycott the fellow because he doesn’t vote my precise ballot.

      The problem is when he chooses to parrot the currently-fashionable notion that the election of millionaire New Yorker Donald Trump over millionaire New Yorker Hillary Clinton was “shameful” — or when he uses a bunch of weasel phrases to imply that the half of the country that elected Trump did so because they are evil people. Maybe they’re just tired of being sent to war? Maybe they are tired of seeing manufacturing sent to China? Maybe they disliked the idea of having Clintons and Bushes occupy all but eight of the past thirty-two years of the United States Presidency? There are any number of reasons to vote for Trump that don’t translate directly to KKK Grand Wizardship. I object to Metheny’s characterization of Americans, not his choice of candidate. Does that make sense?

      Reply
      • Avatartracktardicus

        I see your point. But I am willing to support Metheny’s contention that the act of voting for Trump is “shameful” (which isn’t the same thing as “evil”) more so than I am your argument that the long list of policy failures of past administrations is justification for otherwise educated voters (like my parents) to vote for a man like Donald Trump for President of the United States. None of the issues mentioned will be solved by Trump or his administration.

        Reply
        • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

          ” None of the issues mentioned will be solved by Trump or his administration.”

          Maybe, maybe not. But voting for the status quo certainly wouldn’t have solved them either.

          Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Donald Trump, in practice, has governed to the left of Bill Clinton. I don’t see what all the hysteria is about. I *do* notice that far fewer young men in Ohio are on deployment than they would have been in a third Clinton Administration, and that’s nice.

          Reply
    • Avatarpaul pellico

      Nooo…the shameful act is to act as if whatever the Billarry did can be ignored or the unwashed being upset with their history and unable and unwilling to live though more is somehow uncool. The very act of voting for her would have been the darkest of decisions.
      No, the middle and main part of the nation was unwilling to hold their noses and let them in once again.
      To act as if the results of the worst foreign policy team since Thomas Jefferson, Syria Isis, etc, is a contortion in reason beyond acceptance.

      Don’t lecture us when this is your handicap.

      And let us look at exactly the political work of Trump. In almost every move he has made, the goal was to make the American interest and economies better. From enforcing the laws of immigration, forcing companies to bring their wealth back into this country to eliminating and on and on and on…all while carrying the entire media, the RINOS and democratic party on his back!
      Talk about working in a headwind!!!!

      Reply
      • Avatarpaul pellico

        Nooo…the shameful act is to act as if whatever the Billarry did can be ignored or the unwashed being upset with their history and unable and unwilling to live though more is somehow uncool. The very act of voting for her would have been the darkest of decisions.
        No, the middle and main part of the nation was unwilling to hold their noses and let them in once again.
        To act as if the results of the worst foreign policy team since Thomas Jefferson, Syria Isis, etc, is a contortion in reason beyond acceptance.

        Well, OK…there was the Wilson team, I guess….and that wonderful period from 1914 to 1918. But I guess we can blame Teddy for that.

        Don’t lecture us when this is your handicap.

        And let us look at exactly the political work of Trump. In almost every move he has made, the goal was to make the American interest and economies better. From enforcing the laws of immigration, forcing companies to bring their wealth back into this country to eliminating and on and on and on…all while carrying the entire media, the RINOS and democratic party on his back!
        Talk about working in a headwind!!!!

        Reply
        • Avatarpaul pellico

          I once had a drea.
          The entire condition of the world we live in today was all the doing of my fav prez, Teddy R.
          If he ONLY had not split the vote, Woody would not have won.
          Then the horrible treaty decisions in France would not have given us WW2.
          Then the baby boomers wouldn’t have existed in such overwhelming numbers, the ONLY time in American history youth outnumbered adults.
          Then the poor parenting and dreadful youth-worshiping of the media and fearful,wannabe hipster leaders would not have resulted in the left turns in our nation, our courts.
          Ya, Teddy…why didn’t you just run the normal successive term campaigns!!!?

          Reply
  14. AvatarOne Leg at a Time

    That Tablet piece with Angelo Codevilla is excellent, and horrifying at the same time. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Reply
  15. AvatarMarkXJR

    Now, hypothetically speaking, if Pat (who I admittedly have never heard of) sent out an e-mail about his undying admiration for President Trump, would that make you want to buy more of his stuff? Or would you be just as annoyed as you are now, for an artist pushing his political views onto fans?

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I didnt vote for Mr. Trump so I would be similarly annoyed… in this case however my beef is with him describing this as a revelation of shameful evil in the national character. If he wrote a song called “Vote For Hillary” I wouldn’t necessarily boycott it. If he wrote a song about how all Democrats molest children and worship the Devil I’d have to take a pass.

      Reply
  16. AvatarComfortablyNumb

    Much respect for walking the walk and taking your dollars elsewhere, Jack. It’s a difficult thing to do. I feel a little bit ashamed every time I buy cheap Chinese-made clothes despite claiming to support American products.

    Now if Allen Edmonds were to come out with some kind of corporate progressive stance, I’d probably have to just delete that email.

    Reply
  17. AvatarEric L.

    I’ve never understood why readers here and on TTAC always dump on Nissan. Stingray65, who would miss Nissan leaving? Me and the rest of their fan community.

    RANT:

    I haven’t driven nearly as many cars as an automotive journalist, or anyone who travels extensively for work, bouncing through rentals. But I’d wager you naysayers haven’t actually driven a three-pedal Maxima or Skyline/G35/37/Qwhatever. The late 90s twist-beam Maxima with a stick? Yeah, still an incredibly fun car to drive, though it lost the IRS and 4DSC badge. The early 02-03 255HP 6-speed manual Maxima, still with a twist-beam rear suspension? A pleasure to take to the limits. The ’04-’06 bloated Maxima: Came with an optional six-speed manual transmission and a viscous limited slip! The 4-door 350z (Skyline/G35) handles like a dream. Journalists bagged on it for being too competent, the usual knock for performance Nissans: Too fast, too good at steering, just doesn’t feel like a slow 3-series, you know?

    Show me your beloved Fusion with a high-torque V6 and a stick. The newest Fusion Sport slushbox was a great addition, but why couldn’t they make the 2010 version come even close to the performance of the Nissan mid-size sedans? And who would ever want to try and hustle an Impala through corners, even once they crammed in that 300+ HP 3.6L V6 in the new ones that, Jack noted, can startle a G35? No one, because they are mushy, boring cars. And by the time Ford figures out they can put a 330HP twin-turbo V6 in an AWD fusion, Nissan drops a 400HP twin-turbo V6 in the 2020 RWD Skyline, a hilarious, Maxima-looking sleeper.

    I choose to drive Nissans because they are fun and relatively reliable. I stopped driving my early 00s Taurus because it was neither fun, nor reliable. It had no redeeming characteristics, besides having a well-done metallic blue paint job.

    Nissan sold enthusiast Maximas that cost about ~$1K less than entry G35s. They sold three-pedal sports sedans under the Infiniti badge for 10 years before throwing in the towel. They’ve continued to produce enthusiast vehicles, even though it doesn’t make any sense: WHO WANTS A 2020 NISSAN SENTRA WITH A SIX-SPEED MANUAL? At least a few people, apparently. It’s a far cry from the old Spec-V, but someone out there still wants a sport compact. Remember when Nissan shoved the NISMO 370Z’s seats into a 6MT Juke with NISMO badges? MADNESS. None of the other Japanese manufacturers are doing similar things with their product.

    And the Quest, the ungaingly little spaceship that it is, is the only Nipponsei minivan sold in the US and happens to come in a trim level (LE/Platinum) that is indistinguishable from an Infiniti, with more leather and gadgets than should ever appear in a van. (But, to be fair, the Sienna has a similar Maximum Pimp trim level (Limited Premium) with two reclining captains chairs and center console in the middle row.)

    My personal brand history:
    ’02 Maxima 6MT – 2 years of ownership (the car grew up in Columbus. Nissan didn’t provide enough rust proofing…)
    ’05 Maxima 6MT – 6 years of ownership (in 2+2 configuration. Nothing like it.)
    ’05 Skyline 6MT – 2 years and counting, ~300HP with a 7K RPM redline and fuel cut somewhere around 7.3K. Such a joy to drive, there’s just not a replacement for this car, if you’re uninterested in flaunting a M3 or rare-as-hens-teeth three-pedal 340i.
    ’13 Leaf SL – 1 year of go-kart action. You can push it past its limits, clicking a shade over the 91MPH governor going down hills (my record was 94).
    ’15 Quest LE – 2 years and counting. The CVT seems to pair well with the 3.5L VQ35DE V6.

    Reply

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