(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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1971 Stutz Blackhawk: Ostentatious Ostentation

NOTE: Another submission by my friend in Sweden, Billie Biscayne. She previously wrote a column on the Chrysler Plainsman ‘dream car.’ If you missed that one, check it out here. Cheers. -TK

This is the tale of one of the most ostentatious and flamboyant neo-classic luxury “rat rods” ever created, and some of the eccentric, unorthodox and rather dubious owners it has had since 1971!

It all started in the late 1800’s with an Ohio farm boy who had a natural talent for engineering. Harry Stutz assembled his first gasoline powered vehicle, a creation he called “Old Hickory”, mainly from bits and pieces of old farming equipment. One can only assume that he refined these skills somewhat over the years as he later went on to become the founder of The Stutz Motor Company (originally Ideal Motor Company) in 1911. The first car rolled off the production line in Indianapolis, Indiana, that very year and Stutz Motor Company continued to build high-end sports and luxury cars, like the Bearcat and the Blackhawk, there until 1935 when they unfortunately became yet another automobile manufacturer to succumb to the Great Depression. Continue Reading →

(Double) Weekly Roundup: BMX Gold Edition

Congratulations to Niek Kimman, the Dutch pro BMX rider who came back from an unpleasant and unnecessary injury caused by a careless track official earlier this week to win the gold medal at the Olympics. Although he’d been a favorite to win the gold beforehand, the crash put him on the back foot and then some. I’m sharing the story of his resilience and courage with my son, and encourage you to share it with your children.

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1987 Ford Taurus LX Wagon: Eat My Road Grit, Liver Lips!

Here’s another one that, like my recent posts on the ’76 Sunbird and ’79 Accord, used to be everywhere and are now almost a memory. But this one survived. These Tauruses were all over the place when I was a kid, sedan and wagon alike. Then, seemingly one day they all disappeared at once.

And for those who grew up in the ’80s, who could possibly forget Clark Griswold’s wood-festooned Taurus in Christmas Vacation? These wagons never came with the Country Squire-style Di-Noc wood sides. The movie car was simply modified to reflect Clark’s likely replacement to the Wagon Queen Family Truckster in the original Vacation movie.

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Amusing Dealer Names, Part One

Last night my friend Dave Smith posted this vintage ad on his FB group, the American Brougham Society. It was apparently a one-of-one 1980 Olds Ninety-Eight convertible. Pretty cool. And it made me think of the possibilities if GM had made ’80 Electra and Coupe de Ville convertibles back then.

But that was all later. My juvenile brain picked out the name of the dealer before processing anything else.

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Guest Rental Review: 2020 BMW 330i Premium Pack

Please give a warm welcome to Nick and his Rental Review, sent to me on November 17, 2020 but just published now! I’m sitting on a backlog of great contributions that will be trickling out in the month to come. If you’d like to see your name in here, let me know — jb

Making good on a promise to my youngest son, I picked up a Melbourne Red 2020 BMW 330i (G20) with a Premium Pack from Enterprise, upgrading from a full-size using points accumulated from a few 15-passenger van rentals and a little work travel. The plan – cannonball 1,100 miles to and from Northeast Indiana to Statesville, NC and back in a weekend for some mining, creeking, and fluming.

With my BMW experience limited to driving a friend’s dad’s E36 330i 6MT and a racing teammates’ 228i M-Sport 6MT, I went into this with an open mind and hoped for an improvement over the CVT Fusion Hybrid or Malibu in the full-size area, and the Chrysler 300 in the PXAR zone.

I made the wrong choice.

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(Double) Weekly Roundup: Yellin’ For Yellen Edition

Hello again, readers. Haven’t seen you for fifteen days. What can I say? Sometimes I’m awfully busy. To reward you for your patience, let’s find the hot-water tap in this joint and twist it until some scalding crimethink pours out. You know, the kind that makes you pull your hands out from under the faucet and rub them on your arms in panic.

Let us, for just ten long seconds, examine the idea that the Presidential election was, in fact, stolen, and that Joe Biden will join “Rutherfraud” B. Hayes in the list of Presidents whose ascension is tainted in retrospect. Now, to even consider this notion is to flirt with danger — and it cannot possibly be true, can it? The recent election, according to a hastily formed coalition of the (presumably) willing, was the most secure in history! Exactly how this could be so is difficult to understand; wasn’t it just like the last Presidential election, only with millions of additional and entirely unverified mail-in ballots? And why were all those people so eager to form a coalition and reassure us before a single audit or examination had even begun? Did they receive their marching orders from the same Star Chamber that, ahem, saved the election in the first place? It’s best not to look too closely at that, lest you be forcibly unpersoned for even having a public thought about it.

Anyway, let’s wave our hands at all of this and say, for a moment, that the election was in fact stolen. Why? Cui bono? If you take a dispassionate look at what President Trump actually did, rather than what Rachel Maddow said he was gonna do, he wasn’t exactly Benito Mussolini or anything like that. He didn’t actually do much to stop illegal immigration or restrain corporate profiteering. His programs to return manufacturing jobs to America, admirable though they were, didn’t do much besides slow the rate at which factories are leaving the country. There’s no evidence that the Uniparty agenda of lower labor costs and higher asset prices suffered any significant damage during his Presidency. Oh, and America is about to go perma-Democrat anyway, thanks to a thorough and irreversible series of demographic changes. Why bother to steal the election at all? Why take the risk?

As of July 2021, it appears we at least have the answer to that question.

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Learning To Deal With “I Can’t”

Due to my rather intermittent presence on this blog, not to mention the fact that all of you have your own rich and fulfilling lives to live, you may not know that I suffered a really nasty meniscus tear in October of 2020. It was a glorious moment, to be sure, and nearly worth the thousands of dollars in medical bills and months of rehabilitation.

There I was, charging toward the goal from my Center Attacking Midfielder position. The winger, sensing that I was going to make a run, played a perfect cross into the box just behind the centre back. The keeper was stuck in no man’s land—come off your line to try to intercept the cross or stay on your line and wait for the shot. Ultimately, the keeper made the decision to come out just a hair too late, and I was able to slide just underneath the outstretched, gloved fingers and strike the ball perfectly into the back of the net at the same moment I felt the meniscus tear in half in my right knee.

That 10-year-old girl never had a chance.

Yes, it’s true. I injured myself at great cost in a parents versus kids soccer game at the end of my daughter’s fall U11 soccer season. But I’m telling you, I don’t care if she was seventy pounds—it was the best goal of my life. (Since some of you tend to have broken sarcasm detectors, yes, I know this is all very, very pathetic.)

So after a expert consultation and arthroscopic surgery at the hands of Dr. Scott Van Steyn (I just made my final payment today, Doc—enjoy that vacation!) at Ohio Orthopedic in Columbus, Ohio, I am now left with approximately 55 percent of a meniscus in my right knee. The tear was far too bad to repair, unfortunately, but removing the damaged portion meant a much faster recovery—in theory.

“Well, Mark, this is the first step to an artificial knee,” he began.

Wait. Time the fuck out. Artificial knee? I cannot possibly be that old.

Well, it turns out that I can be.

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1979 Honda Accord: Batter Up!

Here’s the other side of the coin from my alcohol-laced Cutlass post. And timely, as I just spotted this today over coffee on Finding Future Classic Cars.

The first one. First of a crapload of Honda Accords. Yup. Initially available as a two door liftback only, perhaps a surprise to our younger readers who associate these as midsize suburban sedans seen, well everywhere. Continue Reading →