March 16, 2009 - March 9, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Stations of Loss
much of everywhere will look like this in 2029?
HISTORY IF YOU CARE
Funny how things work, how trains of thought get started and lead to
other destinations. Over the weekend I glimpsed some Top Gear
promo featuring what the
Brits call a 'shooting
' or an 'estate
.' It got me wondering
about the obsolete American term for the same kind of vehicle: 'station
wagon.' I realized I didn't have the slightest idea where it came from.
So this morning I did a Google search and was rewarded with the
following from JustaCarGuy.com
February 20, 2009
Station Wagon, origin of the phrase
I was thinking about Station Wagons after posting about the Desoto and
the Dodge a post or so down the page... and I realized that the phrase
must orignate from the horse drawn wagons that went from station to
station... or stages, hence Stage Coach... ergo station wagon.
Well, it made sense to me until I looked on the web for confirmation.
I was wrong.
The very first station wagons were
called 'depot hacks' - they worked primarily around train depots as
hacks (taxicabs). The modified back ends that made them depot hacks
were necessary to carry large amounts of luggage - everyone traveled by
train then, remember, and you needed a car that could comfortably carry
people and large amounts of luggage from the train station to home.
They were also called 'carryall's' and 'suburbans' (a name Plymouth
used on their wagons until the late 1970's). 'Station wagon' was just
another derivative of 'depot hack'; they were vehicles that were used
as wagons (to carry passengers and cargo) from (railroad) stations.
He got it from a dedicated station wagon website
where there is also an excellent photographic gallery
this dead staple of American vehicular design.
The thing is, I miss station wagons. I've always had a soft spot for
them because in my most serious car days a generation back I had a
friend who loved both speed and bigness
His dad owned a Type 27 Bugatti
whose eponymous founder famously derided W. O.
Bentley for making "fast trucks." But my friend preferred Bentley's
vision of the roadgoing
(cowcatcher optional) to the continental European ideal of
the quicksilver scuttlebug too elusive to step on. He didn't disdain
sports cars. But he preferred the big Jags -- the XK 120s and 140s --
to the Alfas, Fiats, Matras, Elvas, and Lotuses that made smallness a
cardinal sporting virtue in the fifties and sixties.
Elva Courier. Cute, huh? Very Euro.
His personal ideal was American to the core, police cars and, yes, station wagons
outfitted with tires, suspension, braking, engine, and audio components
that would make them fast and agile enough to run down the scuttlebugs
without any loss of big-car utility and comfort. As a big man and a
multi-tasking one, he wanted plenty of leg and seat room, 100-Watt
Stones belting from the stereo, a wide Detroit ashtray for his cigars,
amusing passengers, and a few hundred pounds of tools and parts
slamming around in back while he executed four-wheel drifts that would
make today's fast-and-furious Hondas an endangered species if they'd
interfered with his cornering arcs. Below is a picture that's close to
what he'd have wanted, though he'd have switched out the alloy wheels
for drilled stainless steel hubcaps, mounted the white-lettered tires
with the inside blackwalls out, and he'd have fabricated his own dual
exhausts, blueprinted the 440 V-8, and added fore and aft super-het
radar detectors, headers, a manifold with two four-barrel Holley carbs,
Koni shock absorbers, and calculated a custom camber and tow-in
alignment that would have snapped the numb Chrysler steering into
He'd also have installed metallic
brakes and repainted in primer or matte.
The idea was not to look fast, but to
be fast and look nondescript to cops.
Sorry about all the retro tech jargon, but the point here is that
unlike today's minivans, the station wagons of old had the capacity to
be utilitarian, sexy, godawful fast and, if not nimble, tenaciously athletic
at handling. There was
nothing inherently feminine about them, nothing suggestive of the
bulbous wombs on wheels you see mooing blissfully down the highways of
a morning, so content in the primacy of their cargo that the mother
behind the wheel can't even be bothered to compensate for her abundant
blindspots by checking the rearview mirror. She has no power in merging
maneuvers, she veers from lane to lane as if guided by the wind-heeled
spinnaker of a sailboat that knows it always has the right of way, and
she has more faith in the belts and trusses of her childseats than she
has knowledge of the physics that make underpowered
high-center-of-gravity vehicles so incredibly vulnerable.
I'm not tring to be mean. Honestly. But surely our wives and children
would be safer in transportation appliances more like the old station
wagons -- lower, less tippy, with more visibility all round, lower,
more solid automobile handling characteristics, lower
. To the ground. Yet station
wagons are a thing of the past. Why?
I know it's crazy, but I also happened this morning on a beautiful but
depressing photographic essay on the ruin of the City of Detroit, which
you can see here
The first image was of the pathetic remains of Detroit's
great train station
, and I thought, "Hmmmm." Even if I don't know
where the term 'station wagon' comes from, maybe the soul of the
Detroit automotive manufacturing triumvirate does. Obviously, not every
American city has lost its links with its
, but Detroit definitely has, and that's the city that governs the American understanding of what contemporary transportation requirements are. Maybe their current
vision of safe travel for women and children has taken on a tank-like
quality because their headquarters city bears so much resemblance to a
I realize I'm not making a defensible economic, historical, or rational
argument. It's just a sensory reaction. But what are the odds that I'd
light on the Detroit nomenclature 'station
wagon' and then stumble on a photo of the tragic state of the Detroit
Now think about the kind of corrupt, tax-heavy government that has run
the City of Detroit into the ground pretending that government can make
up for the loss of private sector revenue. It can't. It isn't that
business is the exploiter. It's that government is the parasite. Always
the parasite, feeding itself on the weaknesses of the people.
All you mommies: Is that what you really want?
If government succeeds in killing the engines of capitalism and private
enterprise, the portrait of Detroit you see above could be all of us in
twenty years time. Think about that, why don't you?
We are the change
ghosts we've been hoping for.
final plink of serendipity. The Michigan Central Station was finished
in 1913, the year the income tax was legalized in the United States.
Metaphors involving cancer come to mind. More irrational poetic guff.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Obama not returning
Peggy's phone calls
no pill for this kind of depression," she says.
The poor dear is genuinely upset. Her column
is positively lugubrious and uncharacteristically lacking any
mention of Barack Obama. In fact, his absence is actually kind of a
I spoke to a Manhattan-based
psychiatrist who said there is an uptick in the number of his patients
reporting depression and anxiety. He believes part of the reason is
that we're in a new place, that "When people move into a new home they
increasingly recognize the importance of their previous environment."
Our new home is postprosperity America; the old one was the abundance;
we miss it. But he also detected a political dimension to his patients'
anguish. He felt that many see our leaders as "selfish and dishonest,"
that "our institutions have been revealed as incompetent and
undependable." People feel "unled, overwhelmed," the situation
Unled? Selfish and dishonest?
Peggy! Get a
grip on yourself. The president is a married man. Sure, he said
he'd call, but that's not a
lie in the usual sense. It's a standard gambit for letting you down
easy. Would you have been happier if he'd said, "Of course I'll never
call you. I deeply appreciate all the gushingly unctuous admiration
you've shown me in your columns, but I'm just not that into you
Yes, you're feeling "overwhelmed" at the moment, but that's not really
a good excuse for all your talk of "Xanax, Zoloft and Klonopin."
Anti-depressants aren't going to help in the long run. They're just a
delaying tactic. We've got a two-step process for getting over what
ails you. First, take a good long look at this picture.
Uh huh. She's beautiful. She's his wife
She's also the mother of his children. Hundreds
of adoring columns aren't
going to erase these three checkmate-caliber advantages. It's not just
that you've lost him. You never had him. Which means it's time for step
That's right. Haagen Dazs Sticky Toffee Pudding. It's the perfect
antidote -- vaguely British, pretentious, and as treacly as your own
prose. You'll forget
all about your depression halfway through the first pint. (Make sure to
eat it with a silver spoon.)
Trust us. Everything's going to look much much better by and by.
Somebody out there is sure to want you. Almost certainly, probably.
Well, that's our
good deed for
Anybody else having problems with depression? Think of us as Blaagen Dazs -- healing flavors for every taste.
Only one thing to
for the Johnny Cash fix at the end.
GONNA BREAK, ARE
Waste of time, I know. InstaPunk readers are too sophisticated
to like country music. But I don't care. Here's a single song featuring
Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and the 'Man in
Black' himself. (Yeah, our tribute/obit is long overdue. Coming.)
Before you declare yourself above it all, though, read what this
English major regards as one of the high points
of romantic poetry. Dramatic, involving, memorable. (I've memorized
whole verses of this one without meaning to. It just feels so good to
declaim it out loud at a full moon.)
by Alfred Noyes
The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.
He'd a French cocked hat on his forehead, and a bunch of lace at his
He'd a coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of fine doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle; his boots were up to his thigh!
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle--
His rapier hilt a-twinkle--
His pistol butts a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky.
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred,
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter--
Bess, the landlord's daughter--
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
Dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim, the ostler listened--his face was white and peaked--
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter--
The landlord's black-eyed daughter;
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say:
"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart; I'm after a prize tonight,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light.
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."
He stood upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the sweet black waves of perfume came tumbling o'er his breast,
Then he kissed its waves in the moonlight
(O sweet black waves in the moonlight!),
And he tugged at his reins in the moonlight, and galloped away to the
He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon.
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon over the purple moor,
The redcoat troops came marching--
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.
They said no word to the landlord; they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets by their side;
There was Death at every window,
And Hell at one dark window,
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.
They had bound her up at attention, with many a sniggering jest!
They had tied a rifle beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the dead man say,
"Look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way."
She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by
Till, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!
The tip of one finger touched it, she strove no more for the rest;
Up, she stood up at attention, with the barrel beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing, she would not strive again,
For the road lay bare in the moonlight,
Blank and bare in the moonlight,
And the blood in her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, ringing
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance! Were they deaf that they did not
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding--
The redcoats looked to their priming! She stood up straight and still.
Tlot tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight--
Her musket shattered the moonlight--
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death.
He turned, he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the casement, drenched in her own red blood!
Not till the dawn did he hear it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness
Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon, wine-red was his velvet
When they shot him down in the highway,
Down like a dog in the highway,
And he lay in his blood in the highway, with the bunch of lace at his
And still on a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a gypsy's ribbon looping the purple moor,
The highwayman comes riding--
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred,
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter--
Bess, the landlord's daughter--
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
And then ask yourself, what is America BUT romantic poetry? And if
we're going to survive the current ordeal, don't we all have to find
the highwayman in ourselves? Here we call it punk
But the label is
unimportant. The spirit is universal. And eternal. Ride, my friends,
ride. Some of us never submit to the tyrannies of men. There's always a
price to be paid, but sometimes the stakes are worth it. Dying is
part of living, and anyone who
forgets that is a fool. If you really want to live, be prepared to die
for me by moonlight..."
Still alive. How about you?
audio file is NSFW):
they're all equal now and they can kick ass when need be. Right.
FANTASY VS REALITY
It's called liberation. Turns out that Rihanna's
by Chris Brown was the bitch's own fault according to Massachusetts
Boston teens surveyed say Rihanna is at fault for assault
Here's a conversation starter: Nearly half of the 200 Boston teenagers
interviewed for an informal poll said pop star Rihanna was responsible
for the beating she allegedly took at the hands of her boyfriend,
fellow music star Chris Brown, in February.
Of those questioned, ages 12 to 19, 71 percent said that arguing was a
normal part of a relationship; 44 percent said fighting was a routine
The results of the survey, conducted by the Boston Public Health
Commission across the city and equally among boys and girls, are
startling for local health workers who see a generation of youths who
seem to have grown accustomed, even insensitive, to domestic violence.
"I think you'd have to be pretty jaded if you weren't startled by it,"
said Casey Corcoran, director of the health commission's new Start
Startled? Why? I've been furious for years about Hollywood's pretense
that women are men's equals in physical combat. All they need,
according to scriptwriters, is training. Differences in body weight,
muscle mass, and upper body architecture mean nothing. How many girls
are now convinced they're "tough enough" to go toe to toe with their
boyfriends? Beating the shit out of people is a gender-neutral
endeavor. Ask Cynthia Rothrock.
But it's all nonsense. In line with the new liberation mentality, there
are female boxers, of course, but they almost never knock each other
down or out. They flail away for some number of rounds and then there's
decision. Men, on the other hand, are capable of hurting not just women
but other men. When you watch the ones who are good at it, you can't
help but wince:
And boxing is the pretty part of it, governed by rules and
sportsmanship. Without those things, it looks like this:
The truth. Male violence can be incredibly ugly and effective
. Men can't be allowed
to hit women. Ever. Because it's never
a fair fight.
I can't address the masochism that convinces today's teenage girls that
to be beaten up.
But no one can. Young women have always been nuts. That's why men have
to be taught not to hurt them.
End of story. If your daughters think they're hot stuff in combat, it's
time to have a conversation with them. If they think black eyes and
broken ribs are something like love, commit them to an institution for
their own good. If your sons think women are
equal combatants, kill them. You'll be doing the rest of us a favor.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
What to Do:
Questions for Your
LOCAL AS IT GETS
. It's simple, really. Everything the liberals want
to do under
Obama's leadership will cost us money, liberty, quality of life, and
of life. What you
want to know about them is this:
How Much Do You Want to Be
: We accept that you
want the greatest good for the greatest number and that you believe in
tolerance, social justice, equality of outcomes, saving the planet,
world peace, and every possible group-defined human right except the
right to life when it conflicts with the right to choose abortion. We
also understand that in exchange for the elevation of these
group-defined rights, you are willing to cede certain individual rights
to government regulatory entities. What we want to determine is just
how much you personally
prepared to give up for the government-administered utopia you believe
in so fervently. For each of the following questions, answer "yes" or
1. In order to effect economic equality
consistent with my liberal principles, I personally am prepared to:
a. Give up the idea that I will ever be
rich beyond my wildest dreams, no matter how talented I am.
b. Give up the idea that my children will ever be rich beyond their
wildest dreams, no matter how talented they are.
c. Give up the idea that my children will be able to attain the same
level of income I have achieved.
d. Submit myself and my family to government redistributions of income
and assets in compensation for inequities that may have been caused (or
accepted) by my father, grandfather, or great grandfather.
e. Accept that my children and theirs
-- regardless of individual talent or merit -- will live in a state of
economic equality that would today be considered, at best, paycheck to
paycheck and, at worst, poverty akin to what you find in the
egalitarian nation of Cuba.
f. Feel proud of the fact that I have made this decision about
what they deserve and can have for
them, even though I have never experienced the privation I'm willing to
consign them to, in advance of their
ability to choose.
2. In order to achieve the ideal of
absolute tolerance across all racial, religious, gender, and cultural
lines, I personally am
a. Give up some measure of my
individual right to "freedom of expression" under the First
Amendment to make sure that everyone else is free from the possibility
of being offended by bigoted or other expressions they deem offensive.
b. Accept that my children will be permanently disadvantaged in their
pursuit of educational and career opportunities by virtue of the fact
that I and my forebears did not suffer the same kinds of discrimination
experienced by the forebears of other racial, religious, sexual, and
c. Accept that whatever my
values are, the government has a superseding right and power to instill
group consensus values in my children beginning as early as pre-school
and to empower my children to reject my values whenever they conflict
with the prevailing consensus.
d. Submit myself and my family to criminal legal liability for the
possibly prejudiced thoughts behind any expression, action, or crime
(on top of the fact of the crime itself) for the avowed purpose of
eliminating 'hate' from the body politic.
e. Accept the possibility that the sins of my forebears past can never be atoned for and,
consequently, that my children and their children will pay a lifelong
penance as a multi-generational sacrifice to the principle of social
f. Feel proud that my own lofty principles have made my
descendants indentured servants to a debt they played no part in
3. In order to ensure universal
healthcare on an equal basis, I personally
am prepared to:
a. Consent to the government's
right to tax and regulate my preferred diet and sensory vices in the
interest of preventing healthcare costs that must be borne by the
b. Consent to the possibility that 'equal' healthcare may result in
treatment delays, drug rationing, and reduced technological advances in
medical care owing to a decline in profit opportunity for
pharmaceutical and medical technology companies.
c. Consent to the government's right to supervise treatment of my
injuries and illnesses in order to prevent excessive costs that must be
borne by the general population.
d. Consent to the government's right to withhold treatment from
me for ailments that are caused by my own poor decisions regarding
drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, obesity, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and
e. Consent to the government's right to withhold treatment from
my children and theirs for poor decisions they may have made about
drugs, alcohol, food, and genetic parentage.
f. Feel proud that I and my children and their children will
probably die younger than my parents did because of the just equality
in healthcare administration my principles helped bring about.
4. In order to maintain the
freedom to choose for all women who become pregnant, I personally am prepared to:
a. Accept women as the superior
sex, in that they have the right to choose life or death for the
product of a man-woman union and men do not.
b. Give up my right, or the right of my sons, to have any say in the fate of an embryo
they have fertilized and which would, if not aborted, become the fruit
of their loins and just possibly a justification for their having lived
c. Live my whole life without ever confronting my own emotions
about the fact that my own mother could have chosen to abort me for
reasons of economy, convenience, or carelessly belated birth control.
d. Accept that my daughter's freedom to choose means that she can
make a life and death decision that could affect her mental health for
the rest of her life without my having any right to participate in or
even know about her decision.
e. Accept that my daughter's freedom to choose might mean that
she is the victim of rape or statutory rape without my having any right
to know what happened to her, comfort her, or pursue justice against
the malefactor to prevent additional rapes.
f. Feel proud that my daughter's freedom to choose
automatically places the state between her and me, as if I were the enemy to be feared and
the state the friend who loves and protects her.
5. In order to prevent any aggression
or imperialistic domination by the United States of America against
other nations or foreign nationals, I personally
am prepared to:
a. Accept as a postulate that the
United States is at fault, by default, whenever some other nation or
foreign entity expresses a grievance against us.
b. Overlook the excesses of foreign dictators who persecute their own
people because the demons that inspire such crimes were probably caused
in the first place by the colonial crimes of imperialistic western
c. Accept the probability that without U.S. bullying, the state
of Israel will be destroyed in a nuclear attack within a decade.
d. Accept the probability that extending U.S.
constitutional protections to non-U.S. citizens who are sworn to
kill us will eventually result in another catatrophic loss of American
life, probably greater by far than what we experienced on 9/11.
e. Accept the possibility that I or my children will die a
horrible death for my conviction that everyone who has a grudge against
the United States is justified and that we are automatically guilty of
what they seek to punish us for.
f. Feel proud that I am willing to sacrifice the lives of my
children and their children to foreign fanatics whose morality also
celebrates the murder of wives, daughters and grandmothers for speaking
to men outside their immediate families.
6. In order to save the planet from
global warming, I personally
am prepared to:
a. Give up the carbon-generating
technologies I have come to depend on, including minivans, child seats,
email, Facebook, iPods, and Blackberries.
b. Accept that my children will increasingly be navigating the
highways in vehicles that are as crashworthy as aluminum beercans.
c. Consent in the gradual demolition of western technological
economies that are responsible for feeding and sheltering both us and
the Third World we pretend to want to help.
d. Celebrate the eventual establishment of a world government
intent on leveling all nations and reducing their technological
capacities to subsistence level, equal perhaps to what we see in Uganda
e. Feel proud that my principles have dismantled everything
accomplished in the human standard of living since the Renaissance
began in the 14th century. Ah, the bliss of universal justice.
If there is no point at which they answer "no," you have every right to
point out that they are self-hating masochists.
If there is
some point at
which they answer "no" in any or all of these areas, you are entitled
to point out that the leaders they trust so much have never identified
the limits of what they will expect from their followers. Not Obama,
not Al Gore, not Teddy Kennedy, not any of their "progressive" leading
lights. Drawing a line between utopia and dystopia would be up to the
rank-and-file liberals who have, it appears, entirely forgotten how to
on answers to the quiz
questions. Jolly them along. Don't let them get away with saying, "That
won't ever happen," or "That's an unfair question." They don't know
happen, and it's
never unfair to ask them just how far their "ideals" go.
When you have their answers, you might have the beginnings of a
conversation. Not that it will help. Because they don't know how to
think anymore. But at least you'll be justified in pointing that out to
them. And none of them will be able to cite a single source that rules
out the worst case questions you've asked.
Do it. Administer the quiz. Your own heart will beat faster and harder.