1977 Ford LTD Landau: Love To Drive

I have always loved the Ford LTD. The top trim full-size Ford. Top of the heap. The most Broughamtastic. But what does LTD stand for? There are many opinions. One favorite is “Luxury Trim Decor.” But no one is certain. Ford never truly defined it. But no matter what one’s opinion is on the lux-Ford acronym, one thing it most certainly meant was luxury.

LTD 02

If I start talking about the LTD’s history, we’ll be here all night. And I want to focus on my favorite, the 1975-78 models, so let’s try to be concise, shall we? The Ford LTD first came on the scene in 1965, as a deluxe trim Galaxie 500, available initially in two- and four-door hardtop versions.

LTD 03

In that same record-sales year for Detroit of 1965, its arch-rival, the Chevrolet Caprice, also appeared, initially as only a four-door hardtop.

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Guest Post: The Saddest Song

This article originally appeared at The Tannhauser Gate — JB

Open Goldberg Variations, Werner Schweer, editor.

Listening to “happy” music can make one feel happier. However, instead of always making people feel worse, listening to sad music often brings on a state of “paradoxical pleasure.”

I am not saying that listening to sad music in and of itself makes people happier. What I am saying is that listening to sad music can evoke a sequence of very complex emotions. Furthermore, many people regard experiencing that kind of a cascade of metamorphosing emotions as “pleasurable.” (Or perhaps, just as a relief.)

The somewhat waffle-like language employed above is in recognition of the fact that many people experience the same music in different ways. By the way, the sequence of emotions Shock/Disbelief/Anger/Despair formerly was called The Four Stages of Saab Ownership. “What do you mean, my engine’s harmonic balancer was held on with glue?”

I think whether the precise emotional mechanism (and what a silly word “mechanism” is to use, in this context) is transference or catharsis or a feeling of empathy will just have to remain a mystery of the human soul. But from the earliest times, serious thinkers (from Aristotle to Schopenhauer) have always recognized that the power of sad music (and also of literature and drama) does not lie in its merely making people feel sadder than they had been.

A recent BBC Culture article asks whether data diving can “reveal” the “Saddest Number One Song Ever.” I think that that article itself reveals the multiple, perhaps even fatal, limitations of such an approach.

If I had to pick one song known to me as the saddest ever (which avoids the major problems associated with judging the quality and the qualities of songs by things like Billboard charts or Grammys), that would be the “Aria” from the Goldberg Variations. The Goldberg Variations might not have words, but right at the top of the score it says “Song” (albeit in Italian).

Song samples and more pondering, after the jump. Continue Reading →

(Last) Weekly Roundup: I Came, I Saw, I Conquered Some Of It, Anyway

As some of you know, and others deduced ahead of time, I made my debut in the Pirelli World Challenge this past Friday, driving the same Accord Coupe that I’ve been racing in NASA Great Lakes since May. It would be an understatement to say that we brought a knife to a gun fight; not only did I have the slowest and heaviest car in the race, I was one of just two FWD cars in a 21-car field.

We started 20th of 21 on the same tires we’d used for both practice and qualifying. On the first lap I made up five positions to win the Optima Batteries Best Start award. After five laps, I was running 14th and coming up on the 13th and 12th place Bimmers. That was when the CV joint in my right axle lost all its grease and started wobbling apart. Ten laps later my clutch checked out. I could no longer accelerate in fifth gear because the drag of the axle was so bad. I managed to hold on to 14th, winning the VP Fuels Hard Charger Award for gaining the most positions during the race. You can see the final classification on the PWC timing site.

Unfortunately for us, there was no new axle to be had within 500 miles on a Saturday night, so we elected to watch Sunday’s race rather than try repacking the wobbly axle. I didn’t want to risk our car and the cars of the 7 drivers that would have started behind me. That sucked. It sucks to be poor, at least in this context; I showed up pulling Spike the Accord on an open trailer. Some of the other teams had Prevosts, toterhomes, and spare cars. We were the only team that couldn’t afford a new set of tires for every session. I still haven’t paid for my fuel drum…

Doesn’t matter. I told my friends and my team that I could take them to The Show and demonstrate that we have what it takes to run with the big boys. I believed in them and I believed in myself. It takes a special kind of narcissistic jerkoff to sit on his couch in Ohio and say, “Hey, if I had an old Accord I bet I could whip some ass on television.” I am that jerkoff. If you look at the season points for Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car, you will see me and my team on there. Not dead last.

Click the jump for some more photos and a quick rundown of last week’s work.

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1964 Studebaker Cruiser and Daytona: The Last Pass For South Bend

Since I first attended an SDC meet thanks to my parents back in 1996, I have loved Studebaker. But even I have to admit that, in the end, Studebaker did themselves in. They very nearly went under in the 1930s, but thanks to the new management team of Harold Vance and Paul Hoffman–and in no small part, healthy refinancing and restructuring–Studebaker survived the Depression. By late 1933, against all odds, the corporation was back in the black. Unfortunately, those same guys started making the decisions that led to the last South Bend Studebaker cars leaving the soon-to-be-shuttered factory in December 1963, only a few short months into the 1964 model year.

1948 Studebaker

1948 Commander

Studebaker got off to a great start in the postwar era with their startlingly modern, all-new 1947 line.

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Made In The USA: Comply Foam

What’s more economically important, the razor, or the blades? I have two sets of what the kids call IEMs, but what we used to call “earphones”, from the nice people at Noble Audio: the Noble x Massdrop and the Noble Luxe. The former is stellar, the latter ain’t bad. I’ve discussed in the past how Noble carefully notes the source of every component in their IEMs, which is nice. So far my experience has been very good and I’m expecting long service out of both sets. The problem, however, is simple: earplugs, unlike diamonds, are not forever.

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In Which The Author Acts Like Someone Else’s Dad

When I saw the Tuesday night moto sheet I said “God damn it” loud enough to produce a double-take in the 285-pound woman standing next to me. Even though it hadn’t been five minutes since I’d heard her tell another steatopygous Stegosaurus of a heavyweight twentysomething BMX mom that Oh my God, I got so drunk after the fair that night I pissed the fuckin bed while the handful of elementary-school-aged kids around them nodded sagely. It made me think of something I’d read recently about the children of Afghan tribesman during the reign of Czar Nicholas. Something about how they had no childhood but were thrust headlong into the cares of the adults around them. Still, she hadn’t been the one to break the unwritten rule about not starting drama at the moto board. That faux pas had been all mine, and after thirty-four years in the sport, longer than any of the parents around me had been alive, I should really be above that sort of thing.

Still. My son is nine years and three months old. He is eighty-sixth percentile for height but he is so thin that there are no pants commercially available that fit him properly. Like his father, he has an oversupply of brain pan; when we went to the motorcycle show last year he put on an adult Arai Quantum in size XS and said “This is too tight.” As a rider he is reasonably indefatigable, capable of doing fifteen miles at pace on a mountain bike, but he just doesn’t have the muscle mass to shove a BMX bike out of the gate the way he wants to. When I tell him that he will eventually have that capability, that I could break a chain at the age of fifteen, he quite sensibly responds “That doesn’t help me now, Dad. I want to win races now.”

But he wouldn’t be winning any races tonight. There were four other children. One of them was ten years old and the others were eleven. At this age, having a two-year advantage is like being Nelson Vails at an amateur velodrome event; you have so much more leg than the competition that virtually nothing else matters. God damn it.

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Bye Bye, Younkers

As I type this at approximately 6:27 PM Central Time, the Bon-Ton stores will be open for less than three hours, then it’s all over. All the department stores that were a part of this corporation – Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner’s, Younkers, Elder-Beerman and Boston Store, will call it quits after decades of service. But it was Younkers I remember best.

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Just To Save You The Hassle Of Reading Vice Or Buzzfeed…

THE OLDEST BLOCKCHAIN WAS PRINTED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES!!!!!!!

That’s the clickbait headline that’s going around a couple of the garbage sites like Vice and Buzzfeed. To prevent you from having to read them, I’ve found an alternate source for you, free of charge: Finding The Oldest Blockchain.

If you don’t know what blockchain is, then you’ll want to start by reading my Explain-Like-I’m-Five-Years-Old piece on hashes. It was written for people with an interest in Bitcoin. I suspect that interest in Bitcoin has greatly waned since I wrote it; judging by the current market cap, it’s a third of what it is now. Which reminds me. I have a Bitcoin story of my own to tell. Watch this space.

The Only Good Republican Is A Loser Republican

It’s been so refreshing to see the bipartisan respect for John McCain this week. Democrats everywhere are reminding us how much they love John McCain. He was a patriot, a hero, and a statesman. It’s a real shame that McCain didn’t die before he ran for President—he might have won.

Because, of course, before he died, he was none of these things. He was a racist and sexist bigot. He used Botox excessively. He might have had Alzheimer’s. Actually, he was really racist.

But once the left got a taste of a winning Republican (in the person of one Donald J. Trump), they decided that McCain was just fine. Always a lovable loser, the Washington Generals to the Dems’ Harlem Globetrotters, the left was happy to deify McCain upon his passing. All of a sudden, they decided that respect for the flag was a really important thing. All because of just one thing—McCain was essentially a #nevertrump guy.

The media has decided to make a Faustian deal with the neo-con GOP establishment—rebuke Trump, and we’ll change our position on you.

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