During the late ’70s, Chrysler Corporation found itself in dire straits. They were losing money hand over fist, their newest models, the 1976 Plymouth Volaré and Dodge Aspen, had serious quality issues and rust problems, their midsize Coronet and Fury were popular only with little old men, taxi operators and law enforcement, and there would be no relief in the form of a new product—in the form of the FWD Omni and Horizon–until 1978. And then there were the full-size yachts.
The redesigned full-size Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler never really got a chance. Production was still in its early stages when the “oil shortage” caused by events overseas caused the sale of Big Three biggies to plummet rapidly. GM and Ford did not get hurt as bad as Chrysler due to their overall better shape and subcompacts like the Vega and Pinto. Stop laughing, they sold! If not for the tried and true-and stone reliable-Darts and Valiants, Chrysler Corporation may not have lived to fight another day. But at any rate, the C-body Mopars never regained the popularity they had had in the 1965-73 period.
It appears that each generation of vaguely literate upper-middle-class Americans must find a particular genre of writing and clutch that tightly to its collective breast. The Lost Generation had their dissipated tales of ennui from Hemingway and Mr. Zelda Fitzgerald, the Greatest loved their massive trash novels (think Thorn Birds). The Boomers read Updike and Jong with (mastur)bated breath, and their younger siblings luxuriated in the privileged sense of wokeness conferred by suffering through an entire rambling Novel Of Blackness by the likes of Toni Morrison or Alice Walker.
Generation X has something unique — the upscale-parenting screed. This is something genuinely new, and like “trap music” it was nowhere until the moment it was everywhere. It litters the pages of the Atlantic and New Yorker the same way Tom Wolfe used to bully his way through the fiction section of every respectable East Coast magazine. The alpha example of this is “When The Culture War Comes For Your Kids,” a recent Atlantic piece skewered by Steve Sailer at Unz Review. Written by a National Book Award winner, the article bemoans the misery of finding out that your child can’t make the cut for a private preschool because at the age of two, his sense of visual ideation was already far behind the curve of other, more promising, two-year-olds. Later on, the author realizes that it will cost $1.5M to send his child through a NYC private primary and secondary education, leading him to whine preciously about schools filled with the progeny of “finance people” rather than the children of “orchestra conductors”.
The alternative to playing this brutal, and brutally expensive, game? Why, it’s horrifying:
When parents on the fortunate ledge of this chasm gaze down, vertigo stuns them. Far below they see a dim world of processed food, obesity, divorce, addiction, online-education scams, stagnant wages, outsourcing, rising morbidity rates—and they pledge to do whatever they can to keep their children from falling.
This single sentence should obliterate any vestigial feel-good beliefs you might have that the elites give any kind of shit about heartland or heritage America. They know how bad it is down here on the ground: the opioids, the joblessness, the PTSD from our endless foreign adventures, the hollowing-out of everything beyond the city limits of twenty white-hot real-estate markets. They know how bad it is — and their primary concern is to ensure that their children never see or touch it.
Despite Packer’s undoubted competence as a writer, he is too close to this particular forest to see anything besides the privileged and individual trees. He accurately describes the hellscape of American meritocracy while failing, tactfully or otherwise, to mention the glaringly obvious reason for its creation, to wit: we now have an unlimited supply of rich people, successful people… scratch that. There is now an unlimited supply of people, period. And it will only get worse. Much worse.
There were 1,400 pairs of Vans skate shoes made in the United States last year. I now own two pairs of them: one in white, one in black. Unfortunately for me, they were so expensive, and so irreplaceable, that I have yet to lace either pair up. Yes, I know that’s ridiculous.
When I read about the WOOBIES MOD-1, however, I thought that I might have stumbled on an affordable alternative. The WOOBIES website and marketing materials are primarily focused on “first responders” and military types, but the phrase “skate shoe” does appear. And the price is right: $85, just a bit more than a set of Ultracush-equipped Vans Pros. So I ordered a pair. They’re produced intermittently so it took a while for the Mod-1s to arrive. So… are they a great alternative to Vans?
The answer, as Juan Peron’s advisors say in Evita, is… a qualified yes.
I was there, outside the Chinese restaurant, when Richard Stallman screamed and began to run from the raindrops.
It was early in 2001 and I was at MIT to meet and work with the nice people from Spindletop, a nascent computer hardware designer/reseller with a tiny office in the basement of a Cambridge strip-mall building, right beneath a fitness center. (Seems like a curious detail to include, doesn’t it? Will it be relevant later?) I was running a webhosting co-op at the time. The idea was that Spindletop would provide the hardware while I would provide what we now call “cloud space” for their various websites and downloads. The software that ran the computers would be Debian GNU/Linux, an operating system based on the idea of near-absolute freedom.
Dealing with GNU/Linux meant dealing with Richard Stallman, the eccentric genius who had guided the creation of pretty much everything but the Linux kernel itself. I say “eccentric”, but what I’m really saying is that Stallman is mentally ill. I don’t know the correct words to describe that illness, but it manifests itself in dozens of different ways, from extreme hydrophobia (fear of water!) to various disturbing habits of phraseology, communication, and physical behavior. Nobody who knows Stallman thinks he is sane. By the same token, nobody would doubt his intelligence. He’s the only person I have ever met in person who struck me as being measurably smarter than I am, which sounds horrifyingly egotistical but is probably more a reflection of my choice in fellow-travelers.
Stallman agreed to eat dinner with me on the condition that he be permitted to order my meal and that I eat the whole thing without complaint. I wouldn’t have dinner with a resurrected John Coltrane under those conditions but there were plenty of great jazz musicians and there is only one Richard Stallman. The meal was an utter nightmare, of course. Everything he picked had the texture, and taste, of Jell-O made from dog vomit. I told myself that if G. Gordon Liddy could burn his own finger down to the tendon that I could finish a five-course “authentic” Chinese meal. Having done so, I managed to extract some absolutely brilliant ideas from him about software design and programming principles. “Come back to my office,” he suggested, and we headed out to walk over towards the MIT Media Lab. About ninety seconds into our walk, it started to rain. Just a light sprinkling, not build-the-ark stuff. Stallman screamed like a teenage girl, pulled his dashiki (yes!) over his head, and ran in waddling fashion towards MIT.
Twenty minutes later, I arrived at the Media Lab to find him huddling on the other side of the door, shaking. “Why did you not run?” he asked, in a whining monotone. “Is it because you are heavy?” (I was 195 pounds at the time; lighter than Stallman, half a foot taller.)
“Yes,” I replied, “my weight prevents rapid locomotion.” Stallman nodded in satisfied fashion. Two hours later, in the middle of demonstrating some bizarre Bulgarian folk dance, he looked over his shoulder at me and said, “I would be happier if you were not in the office.” He did not stop dancing. I took this as my cue to leave.
I mention all of this so you know precisely the sort of person who is in the middle of being crucified for “defending Epstein’s rape island” by his institutional rivals.
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 →
Somehow, I knew they were going to be trouble. A college-age girl and her (sugar?) daddy, each walking some kind of pitbull-mix thing, taking up the entire width of a ten-foot-wide pedestrian bridge. I rode up behind them and rang my Spurcycle bell. The woman’s dog, a Spuds-McKenzie thing, turned and stared at me. As I rode by, it bit me on the right calf, just under the knee.
I’ve always loved triple yellow Cadillacs. And in its various guises from approximately the late ’60s to the early ’90s, it was always a classy color, in your author’s opinion. The matching pastel yellow leather interior was not always available each year, but it usually was. You’ve got to have the matching yellow leather and top for the full effect, you see. As a friend of mine once told me, you can’t drive a triple yellow Cadillac and not feel good. They’re so bright and cheerful!
So I was instantly infatuated this past Thursday morning when another Cadillac-obsessed friend, Ron Schweitzer, sent me a link to this fine Colonial Yellow 1980 Fleetwood Brougham. As Frank Costanza once said, hoochie mama!
I predicted this a year and a half ago, but I thought I’d have more time before it actually came to pass. This past weekend John and I went to Louisville for a BMX national race. The boy seemed tired both days and only made one of three possible main events, so on the way home Sunday I suggested we stop at Lebanon Bike Park, which is fast becoming one of his favorite places. I didn’t realize at the time that both of us were about to become no-kidding sick the following day and that John’s listlessness had been due to the fact that he was warming up to stay home for most of the school week.
My son enjoys competition and will create it anywhere he spots an opportunity. I wasn’t surprised when he started challenging the other children at the pump track to a few races, which he won. He then started working his way through the adults present, including two college-aged men on first-rate mountain bikes. Eventually I got tired of him dunking on civilians, so to speak, and I pulled him aside.
“Alright, enough messing around with people. I hope you don’t think you can beat me like that.”
“Then you hope wrong,” he responded. I frowned and put my helmet on.
Note: Another one from my buddy, Tony LaHood! -TK
History is replete with bad ideas from people who should have known better: “Trust me, New Coke will make America forget all about the original.” “Helium? Why not fill the Hindenburg with hydrogen?” And, of course, “Let’s tart up a Toyota iQ with an Aston Martin grille, special paint and better interior bits, and triple the price!”