Sunday, June 28, 2009

Car Tales From New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Two Tons Of Fun
Old Iron
Okay eco-nazis, before you start the funeral, before you lower that emission standard, before you nail that coffin of my Camaro, Comet, Corvette and Cavalier, allow me to deliver a eulogy to the nobility of the corpse that you condemn to cancellation: the American Car.
You’ve probably gotten word about ‘The Big Three’ automakers; and, because their problems are of their own making I have no sympathy for them or their plight. And I feel rightly so.
Once there were scores of car manufacturers with names like Duisenberg, Auburn, Studebaker, Hudson, Cord, Kaiser, Checker, Nash and more. Dinosaurs; and, cars that are now made by big conglomerates (that are going belly up) were once, as well, their own entities.
In the spirit of historic perspective-ness, I’ll re-inform you that companies such as Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Oakland (Pontiac) became GM early on under the influences and resources of William C. Durant. Lincoln and Mercury became affiliates of Ford. Packard and Studebaker fell as a result of price wars in the late fifties. Tucker was a one hit economic mugging. Chrysler swallowed Plymouth and Dodge. Nash and Hudson became American Motors only themselves to be gathered into the Chrysler family in 1987. Kaiser (who had once owned Willys and Jeep) had been sold to Renault who later sold out to Chrysler whom is now being bought by Opel who is being bought by Fiat or some such nonsense.
With profits as motivation, competition is fierce for the almighty automobile dollar. Historically, it’s a fuster cluck of dog fighting, bear baiting and a take no prisoners, show no mercy greed feed philosophy. The way small companies rose up only to fall prey, like little fish being eaten by the bigger (and bigger) fish was brutal and barbaric until only the Big Three remained, worm eaten from the inside, termite shells of mismanaged, misdirected manufacturers of cars that no one wants to buy.
BUT, and this is a huge BUTT, in the day, in the space between dream and disaster, these companies made some great, great cars. Cars that geezers call ‘Old Iron’ are cars that can still leave me breathless when I see one cruising. Roadmaster, Bonneville, GTO, Gran Torino, Malibu, Fury, New Yorker and Bel Air.
‘Woodies’ were family station wagons and later adopted by surfers. Ramblers were family cars and I have a friend that swears that he had one that played 45rpm records, they also had push button transmissions.
Fender skirts, windshield visors, side vent windows, four on the floor, dual carb, bored and stroked, two toned or multiple coated candy apple red rubbed to a fine sheen: the American dream of power. The speedometers went to 130 and up and did not lie!
Convertibles with a continuous front seat so your girl could curl up beside you while you snuck a feel or stole a kiss. A back seat as big as an efficiency apartment where if you hadn’t gotten busted for getting laid on it, you were damn sure planning to.
Rancheros and El Dorados held their own against Apaches and F-100’s in the pick-up truck arenas.
More affluent families had a Continental, Coupe DeVille or Fleetwood in their garages. Middle classes had Galaxies, Rivieras, Le Sabres, Fairlanes or Impalas. Dear old Dads gave daughters Comets, Sky Larks, Valiants and Falcons. Guys who had to buy their own cars dreamed of Grand Prixs, Trans Ams, Thunderbirds and the woody producing Sting Ray. And don’t forget for the economy minded: the Monarch, Montclair and Monterey, which a pal of mine got busted in doing 105 coming back from a Steve Miller concert fried on LSD. Poor people got what was handed down or leftover that they could keep running using baling wire, spit and duct tape. Basic repairs and maintenance could be accomplished with few tools and limited expertise. Lads with little to spend created their own cars from parts and called them jalopies.
Early Rock and Rollers sang praises of speed and power and the way that drivers ‘won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve’. Kid’s drag raced and played ‘Chicken’ with their peers. I had a ’57 Fairlane 500 that cruised at 115 and never broke a sweat, also, a ’67 Checker limousine that did 90mph uphill in second gear without a shimmy. Do you even know what second gear is? Granny gear?
Gas was not a problem, two bucks in the tank and you could take a nice long drive. Gas stations were called filling stations and they had mechanics on duty and teenagers with bad complexions and dirty rags in their back pockets (blue or red) that would fill up your tank, check your oil and wipe your windshield as part of the service provided. Gas prices now are a controlled premeditated calculated rip off. Consider this: if your pay had gone up proportionate to gasoline prices you would now be making fifty dollars an hour (and if frogs had wings…). It’s true that over the years cars and car motors have been produced that would give 60, 70, 80 and even 100 mpg but the big companies bought up the patents and buried the technology because they’re in bed (or were) with the gasoline companies.
In return, though, the car companies gave us hard top convertibles, Dynaflo drives, anti lock brakes, suicide doors, and cars that could convert to boats so that we could go from road to river with ease. Drive-in movies.
What do we have now? Well, starting with the German and Japanese invasions with cars that were cheaper and more efficient, Americans turned to emasculated road vehicles, SUVs were bought for tax write offs and Pick up trucks are now primarily for blue collar workers.
And it’s a shame. Why? Because we missed passing on the ‘Muscle Car Mentality’ to our womenfolk! Both of my daughters know how to get into a car with a wire coat hanger and both have been shown the rudiments of ‘hot wiring’. Both know the thrill of ‘joy riding’ and the freedom of ‘road trips’. Neither one can think of a car worth stealing nowadays. So it goes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Orleans Beer Thirty Thoughts

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
The Harder They Fall
Mother Superior… Jump The Gun
Don’t you think that inconsideration is a crime? Don’t you think that inconsideration should be a crime?
And now you’ll ask: “Phil, How did you get mouse-trapped onto this subject?” The answer is that Phil has noticed that more and more morons disguised as fellow citizens are running rampant through his calm lifestyle and centered aura causing chaos, consternation and confusion. And just what does Phil consider inconsideration?
How about the jerk that zips into a no parking zone to jump out for coffee, the young lady that decides to lounge across three bus seats or how about the seventeen year old mother that puts four inches of cold steel into a bus driver’s chest because she doesn’t want to move her stroller from the aisle; I’d say that they are being inconsiderate and need corrected. Possibly some form of sensitivity counseling.
How about those construction workers that clean their paint brushes into the storm drains that flow directly to the lake, the guy who lets his dog have a bowel movement on the sidewalk where you will eventually step or the litterbugs that have insulted our city with their trash thrown hither and yon like so much urban flotsam and jetsam; offensive in the least, inconsiderate to the max. Kind of like that guy who pumped four bullets into that other guy and left him dead in that neighborhood known for it’s crime, poverty and abandoned buildings. How’s that for inconsideration? (I’ve been told that it would be inconsiderate of me to name names of names and places of murders, killings, mayhem, senseless brutality or other wanton crimes involving the taking of another’s life, liberty or the pursuit. Go figure.) Wouldn’t a support group help?
I swear, with all the attention that I’m paying to inconsideration in New Orleans, it’s all I can do to keep up with the national and international inconsiderations that are going on. How about those pesky uranium enrichment programs going on in those countries that hate our guts and the horse that we rode in on? Is that not more inconsiderate than that sticker that someone put on my car that says “Dip Me In Honey And Feed Me To The Lesbians”? How rude can you get?
Car stickers and tee shirts. Should I be subjected to the flagrant sordid misuse of our language and customs? Do I need to know that that woman is with someone that she calls “Stupid”? And, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to know that anyone that gets “Bourbon Faced on Shit Street” is not a member of the jeunesse doree. AND… don’t get me started on whoever began the fashion faux pas of young men with their trousers slung below their buttocks.
Yo, how about that ding bat that just turned their SUV onto my street crossing butt with no turn signal because they had one hand on the steering wheel and the other on their cell phone. Or the person on the cell phone in the check out line or at the restaurant table while the waiter waits (?) to take their order; who do they think they are…DeForrest Kelly?
How inconsiderate is it for super heroes to desert me in my times of need? How often have I looked for the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Cupid and the Great Pumpkin in an exercise doomed to result only in heartbreak? I may as well look for the Mayor or the recyclers or some common friggin’ sense in politics. At least I still have my Obamas.
Now, this is not a rant; so what if my dog just stepped in someone’s tossed chewing gum and I have to figure out a way to extract her from it. No biggie, right? And yeah, I don’t mind painting over someone’s non-art scribbling on the doorframe of the building where I live. Also, I never, ever think about how cigarette butts make up twenty-five percent of all litter and that, shucks, chicken bones and banana peels are organic so it’s okay to throw them from your car window. What the hell do you take me for…the P.C. Police?
Politically corrected people can be a pain in the ass to be around because as Rosanne Rosannadanna would say “It’s always something!” If it’s not puppy mills, over packaging, second hand smoke, care of the elderly, junk food, animal testing, slave labor, pollutants, or ozone layers, it’s the entire GOP. Nothing is sacred to these people: guns, leather, fur, cigars, meat, litter, landfills, chemicals, strip mining, clear cutting and coastal erosion, they’re against them (!) --- you know, American stuff, like gas sucking vehicles, nuclear proliferation, inflated pricing, Chinese imports, Sam Walton and The Army Corps of Engineers. Everything that we hold near and dear to our way of life is under a microscope with these people.
What’s next? Contact sports? Bigotry? Public drunkenness? Irresponsibility? Inconsideration? Can’t a guy spit on the sidewalk without someone looking at him like he’s some kind of terrorist?
Listen, I’ve got rights too. It clearly states in the Constitution that I got the right to Sex, drugs and Rock n’ Roll…Amen. I didn’t come from no damn ape; I am a descendent of Adam and Eve and those other guys. We ain’t got no call to go into outer space, if God wanted us to fly he would have given us wings. And I’m a Budweiser Baptist, if you must know, and there’s nothing like a little talk radio for getting your facts straight. Gimme that old time religion and I’ll give up my gun when they pry it out of my cold dead hands and then they can dip me in honey and feed me to the lesbians!
I’m an American just like you and I dare you to tell me that marriage isn’t sacred, hell, ask any of my ex-wives.
Gee it’s great talkin’ to you guys, can I get another beer and one of them Slim Jims? I don’t care what anyone says, this is the best damn country on the planet… except for them inconsiderate schmucks. Say, don’t you think that inconsideration is a crime?