Ridin’ For Harambe, Part 16


Two days in a row of you smart-alecks who are using my purchase decisions as justification for your own motorcycle choices. John writes, “…thank you for the push I needed to close the deal on this awesome machine.” He didn’t need any push. Just look at it. I really like what they did with these facelift Interceptors. My 2007 VFR800 has a bit of an “Acura” look to it — chunky and non-sporty — but the 2014-and-up bikes look like they could mix it up on the cover of an Electronic Arts video game. Again.

Weekly Roundup: The Stars And The Constellations Know Your Name Edition


Seven years ago, the Omphoy resort appeared on Palm Beach as a single enigmatic white-and-obsidian square, squatting like a landed spaceship, opaque and brutal. Five years ago, I went there for the first time. It’s been a rough half-decade for both of us since then. My readers will be perhaps too familiar with my catalogue of injuries, trials, tribulations, and despair, but the Omphoy fared hardly any better. Built from the shell of the Palm Beach Hilton at a cost of $724,000 per room, the Omphoy couldn’t break even on $500 a night and it eventually went into receivership. Late in 2011, it was sold for $42M to a Palm Beach real-estate hobbyist. In the years that followed, the Omphoy fell into a bit of disrepair, but it’s now been fixed up and rebranded as the Kimpton Tideline. My trip there in March of 2015 gave me some hope that they were squaring it away, and when I returned a few days ago I was pleased to see that the hotel looks just as good as it did five years ago. Maybe a little better. I’d like to think that the hotel’s best days are ahead of it. I’d also like to think the same thing about myself.

Alright, let’s cover The Week That Was.

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In My Day, We Called It “Dressing Up”


The picture just above these words was taken almost three years ago. It’s amazing how time flies. Regardless of that, you’ll see that my blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter was incredibly excited to dress up as Mulan for Halloween. At the time, I thought that was a pretty cool choice.

You see, Frozen had come out just a little bit earlier in the year, and almost every little girl in the world wanted to be Queen Elsa for Halloween. There were even people making drinking games out of it (every time that Elsa rings your doorbell, drink!). But not my Reg-Reg. She wanted to be a tough, warrior princess. She wanted to be Mulan.

Technically, Mulan isn’t even a princess, although she is often included in the Disney Princess (TM) universe. She’s based on a real woman who was a war hero in ancient China. And although I didn’t put a black wig on Regan or draw exaggerated epicanthic folds on her face, I encouraged her to learn more about China and to be whomever/whatever she wanted to be.

Well, folks, that’s now called racism.

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Vignette: The Plight Of The Journosaur


“What I don’t understand,” the fat man in the front seat huffed, “is why they don’t give us an extra day to just, you know, enjoy being at the hotel.” It was early in the morning, like before zero dark thirty early. I was catching a ride with the PR girl and this fellow. He wanted to make conversation; she just wanted to get to the airport. “I’m in, you know, maybe ten great hotels a month, but I never have any extra days to just relax.”

“Uh, yeah,” the girl said, looking straight ahead, “an extra day would be nice.” Turning to face me in the back seat, the man volunteered that he worked for a niche-interest magazine with a circulation of 40,000. I’d never heard of it. He was wearing the T-shirt and the hat that had been given to us upon our arrival fifty-eight hours earlier. I’d seen him wearing both items on three separate occasions. The day before, he’d preened and posed for an interview with the media team of the manufacturer in question, making sure to turn his hat towards the camera and inquiring whether he was “in the right light.” He was fifty years, five foot eight, and probably weighed about what I do. There is no right light for people like that, unless they are named “Marlon Brando.”

When we came to a halt in front of his airline’s sign at the Departures terminal, he stepped out and stood placidly at the curb, waiting for his luggage to be brought to him. The PR girl hit the trunk release. For a moment, he looked very sad at not being personally served by a twenty-eight-year-old. Then he opened the passenger door and leaned in, breathing deeply with the exertion.

“I’m hearing rumors of an international program coming up… need to be on that one!” A meaningful look at the girl, clearly intended to be a sort of iron-fist-in-velvet-glove intimidation. Then, like Batman, he was gone, with just the feeble thump of the closing trunk to announce his departure. I looked back to see where he’d gone, but if he was an individual component of the waddling crowd dragging their rollerbags behind them, I couldn’t tell.

Ridin’ For Harambe, Part Thirteen


Jonathan sends his 2013 Ducati Streetfighter 848 and 1975 BMW R90/6, saying: “The German and Italian colluding in my garage. No good can come of that. I’ve had the Streetfighter for a couple years and love blasting around the country roads of Kentucky on it. I bought the BMW late one Sunday night after a few bourbons and a hasty bid in the last few minutes of an eBay auction. The bike was in North Carolina. Me and a buddy drove out to pick it up on a trailer but I ended up riding most of the way home. These airhead motors are solid.”

Man, is that Streetfighter wicked.

They Say The Darkest Hour Is Right Before The Dawn


Had to make a late-night run through some old stuff at TTAC and I came up this. It seems crazy, but just a little bit less than four years ago, many days at our (not so) little (at the time) car site had image upload panels like this.

As both a professional and an amateur storyteller, I get a little upset sometimes thinking about how many great stories are just lost to humanity because everybody involved is dead, silent, illiterate, or just plain uninterested in sharing the details. The story of Bertel’s Last Days at TTAC has the potential to be a truly memorable tale. It’s got everything — big ears! war crimes! strippers with broken teeth! crazy old dudes attacking other strippers!— but nobody who was there at the time is ready to talk just yet.

I’ve decided that I’m going to save the story, with every last juicy detail, for the day when I leave the auto-journo game, either by choice or by force. On that day, when I can’t earn a buck any more writing about cars, I’m going to open up my Franklin Planner, read all my notes, and share something that isn’t exactly the greatest story ever told — but it’s far from being the worst.