Nostalgia is a wonderful thing; it allows us to look back fondly at times in our lives which were often difficult and unrewarding. It can produce joy in the present moment and assist us in feeling optimistic about the future. I assume that it evolved in us as some sort of defense against suicide or despair; people who felt nostalgia were less likely to just walk into the ocean and not come back.
Of course, nostalgia can also be harmful. It can cause us to hold onto people, possessions, and situations which would be better left behind. Worse yet, it can cause us to drastically misinterpret the past, which in turn causes us to make mistakes in the present day. Such is the case with business-book-huckster Eric Chester’s lament regarding the elimination of teenaged paperboys and other forms of youth labor. Chester notes with disdain that today’s paper is “will be thrown from the window of a hail-damaged 2006 Saturn Ion by a 30-something woman, and it will land at the edge of the curb at least 35 yards from my front porch.” Things were different when Eric Chester delivered the newspaper in 1970, yesireebob.
To his credit, Chester doesn’t necessarily blame the Millennials for not having been paperboys, which is very generous of him. He’s identified another enemy — and since he’s a Baby Boomer, you can probably guess what it is.
As I mentioned in the original post (check it out here, if you missed it), a friend of mine, and fellow car nut, attended the auctions in the Scottsdale area a while back.
She took tons of pictures of actual cool cars, rather than the usual cable-TV assortment of muscle cars, restomods, hot rods and late-model Corvettes. As before, this is pretty much a photo tour. The cars speak for themselves. Enjoy.
. Although the graph seems to be telling us that the more Mexican lemons there are in the US the fewer road deaths there are, the inescapable conclusion is that MEXICAN LEMONS KILL AMERICANS! What should we do about it? Should we import more Mexican lemons (the correlation tells us that this is what we should do)? Or should we ban Mexican lemons altogether? After all, if there are no Mexican lemons on the streets then they can’t kill any more Americans.
That’s just one of the hilarious conclusions in this look at ridiculous correlations. There’s a bit of irony here in the sense that while Mexican lemons certainly don’t kill people, “undocumented” Mexican visitors can, and do, kill people with no penalty for having done so. There’s also the fact that Thomas Friedman’s “flat world” of globalism, having warmed up by killing my trees, is likely to kill quite a few Americans in the near future via the Wuhan coronavirus.
We could absolutely have stopped the coronavirus by closing our borders to Chinese people and products — at least for a while, anyway — but the World Health Organization takes its cues from China and therefore we’ve missed our chance. The spice must flow — in this case, of course, “spice” is Apple products and Chinese consumer trash. It’s also medicine. We globalized our supply of medicine away. There is no penicillin production in the United States anymore. Our heparin comes from China; a while ago, their prioritization of profit over quality killed 81 people and severely damaged 780 more. My advice for 2020: Don’t get sick.
Back to this correlation/causation business. We’ve been eviscerating the value of an American university education nearly as fast as we’ve been closing American pharmaceutical plants — and as a result, we now have at least twenty years’ worth of college graduates who are literally unable to perform the most basic of logical or rational analysis on the statistics in front of them. Would you like an utterly horrifying example? I have one, of course.
Much of this video is pure cringe — PERSONALLY, I LOVE THE SWATCH GROUP! — and it suffers from the typical YouTube disease of stretching a five-minute explanation into a half-hour drag, but it might be worth your attention.
If you don’t like watching videos, here’s the scoop: The great people at Vortic take pocketwatches from the World War I era, fix them up, then put them into Colorado-made wristwatch cases. I am a Vortic owner, I’ve visited the tiny workshop in which they do their work. I’m a fan.
The Swatch Group is not a fan. Swatch, which owns a variety of brands like Omega in addition to, ah, Swatch, is now the owner of the Hamilton brand. They use “Hamilton” as a skinsuit brand beneath which they sell watches made from Swiss and, ahem, overseas components. They’re pissed off that Vortic re-cases Hamilton pocketwatches. They don’t think that a watch made in the United States by the original Hamilton factory should be permitted to retain the brand. That should belong to the modern globalized conglomerate known as Swatch Group.
Wednesday morning, Vortic will be defending itself in Federal court. This is the most one-sided contest humanly imaginable. Were I a billionaire, I’d fund Vortic’s defense. Since I’m not, I’ll be voting with my pocket: no more Swatch group stuff for me.
Sometimes, a name can be more important to success than the actual thing itself-at least when it comes to cars. Chrysler’s premium Cadillac fighter, the Imperial, a separate marque from 1955-1975, is such an example. Intended to move Chrysler Corporation more into Cadillac and Lincoln territory, it never really took off despite attractive design and plenty of luxury features. But for many, it was always a “Chrysler Imperial,” and thus not as prestigious as a Continental or Fleetwood Brougham. That was what ultimately brought the Imperial as a marque to a grinding halt in 1975. Funny thing, though. The car itself continued. As the ‘new’ Chrysler New Yorker Brougham.
The chronic Mopar misfortune held steady through the ’70s. In 1974, all their new full-size C-bodies, from the Plymouth Fury to the Imperial LeBaron, were redone with more formal and Broughamier sheetmetal. Although not drastically different size-wise from their fuselage predecessors, they looked bigger. And when the gas crisis hit in late 1973, just as the ’74s were debuting, Chrysler got screwed–again. Despite the company’s continuing bad luck, all their new models were attractive despite styling cribbed directly from GM–something especially noticeable in the Plymouth Fury’s Oldsmobile 88 cues, and in the Dodge Monaco, which looked suspiciously like a 1973 Buick LeSabre.
At the top of the heap was the C-body full-size Imperial LeBaron, arguably the most attractive car of the bunch–as well it should have been, considering its premium $7,200-7,800 pricing. The Imperial’s 124″ wheelbase was the same as lesser New Yorkers and Newports, but the car itself was longer overall and featured exclusive hidden headlights; button-tufted upholstery, in velour or optional leather; and four-wheel disc brakes.
But it didn’t sell: After selling just 14,483 1974 models and a mere 8,830 ’75s, the Imperial finally left the building. Well, until 1981, but that’s a story for another time. Continue Reading →
This is what they call the double whammy: A German holding company created several brands for use on Kickstarter, where they pimped new Made-In-Germany camera lenses at prices of $3,000 or more. Then the “brands” went bankrupt without fulfilling all of their Kickstarter orders. As is common practice on Kickstarter, that doesn’t mean you get your money back. So a lot of people paid three grand and didn’t get a camera lens.
The people who did get their lens? Well, that’s the second part of the double whammy.
When the nice people at Hodinkee changed their business model from “selling ads on a website that writes about watches” to “selling watches on a website which writes about watches”, I have to confess that I wasn’t totally sold on the wisdom of that idea. Retail is a tough business — much tougher than “influencing”, and much more unforgiving when it comes to evaluating the balance sheet. I’ve seen firsthand lately how much money some of the influencer/promoter parasites want for their attention. A lot of these proposed contracts are in the six-figure range. It’s tough to make that kind of money selling special-edition Swatches on your website.
Or is it? Maybe I should find out for myself. I have a few things I’d like to sell over the next months; the nice people at Guerilla Gravity are finishing my MegaTrail much earlier than I’d expected and I’d like to make some room for it in the basement. (I also have to pay for the thing.) Before I list these items elsewhere, I will throw them up here. Unlike Hodinkee, most of what you see here will be cheaper than it would be elsewhere. What’s coming up? Uh, I have no idea offhand, but it could include:
- Some precious-metal proof and bullion coins;
- Various rare guitars in the $3k-12k range;
- “Doubles” of my Japanese guitar collection;
- A variety of new-with-tag clothing and shoes from Borrelli, Allen Edmonds, Turnbull&Asser, Brioni, and others;
- Quite a few vintage issues of Panorama, Roundel, R&T, CAR, and other magazines;
- Press materials and dealership brochures for various exotic and non-exotic vehicles of the Nineties and Oughts;
- And… watches! Of course watches!
We’ll start the party with a very expensive coin and a very cheap watch. I should point out right up front that these shameless exercises in hucksterism will be limited to about one per fortnight. Other than that, the site will continue as before.
My buddy in Spokane, Jason Bagge, AKA That ’70s Car Guy, AKA The Brougham Whisperer, has found yet another remarkably well-preserved land yacht. This time, it’s the C-body Dodge Monaco, made famous on The Blues Brothers.
“They broke my watch!” “You want out of this parking lot? OK!” “You traded the Cadillac for this?” “Hi! you want to hand me the mike? Thanks a lot. Uh, this is car number…what number are we?” “Five five.” “Car fifty five. Uh, we’re in a truck!”
Here we are in the distant future. February of 2020, after Blade Runner and entire decades after the putative settings of various space odysseys and whatnot. We’re still woefully short on:
* space travel
* flying cars
* intelligent robots
and that’s just the beginning of the list. To make matters worse, we are facing an unprecedented crisis. A critical resource, one which employs tens of thousands of people across the country and which is absolutely essential to all segments of the American economy from academic to governmental to corporate, is becoming harder and harder to find. Once upon a time it just bubbled up from the ground; you could find it everywhere from small-town public squares to the Los Angeles streets. Then we had to start digging for it, seeking it out beneath deep layers of rock and out in the ocean. Now, we’re using complex technology to ferret out the last remnants. We’re also creating some of it via artificial means, although the fake stuff doesn’t work as well as the real thing. In the near future, we may have to start looking at serious rationing, just so there’s enough to go around for everyone.
No, I’m not talking about oil. Why would you think that? I’m talking about racism and sexism — but don’t worry, we have our best people on it, and they’ve come up with a brilliant solution to the problem.
To entirely misquote Prince Hal, I could have better spared a better-known musician. Lyle Mays died yesterday, after what his niece called “a long battle with a recurring illness”. Just how long of a battle? It is not possible to know, although perhaps there is a hint of it in the interview section of a 1994 Pat Metheny Group DVD in which Mays says, “I think a lot… about time… and what to do with the time I have.” Mays was forty-one years old at the time; the comment came off as an uncomfortable mix of ego and baked-in oddity. In retrospect, perhaps it was merely a statement of fact from a man who knew he had an expiration date.