1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance: Be Still, My Heart!

Well, you know the drill. I love these 1971-1976 Cadillacs, particularly Fleetwood Broughams, Fleeetwood d’Elegances, and Fleetwood Talismans. Sure you do. I’ve written up no less than three of them, here, here and here. So I’ll dispense with the background information and history on these.

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Weekly Roundup: White Mirror And The Bad, Bad Deal Edition

Well, as they say, that escalated quickly: Two weeks ago, Peloton, a company which makes stationary exercise bicycles for the terminally soulless and self-involved, debuted a Christmas-centric advertisement called “The Gift That Gives Back” in which a 30-year-old man buys a Peloton for his 22-year-old wife (who has a 9-year-old child already). She is initially terrified by the exercise bike, which seems odd because she is already at the peak of physical perfection, even after becoming a mom. However, she submits to the gift without complaint and uses her iPhone to capture a daily “vlog” detailing her efforts. At one point, she squeals with joy because a Peloton instructor speaks her name. A year later, she explains to her husband how much she has been changed, for the better, by the Peloton… and scene.

This was the rare commercial which offends everyone, even the secular puritans at Vice:

She would rather be anywhere else in the world than here, in her glacial home with the husband she loathes, putting on this sick pantomime of wellness and marital bliss; she’d even rather be back on the dreaded Peloton… Her grim motivation that pushes her to drag herself out of bed combined with exclaiming at the camera how blatantly, inexplicably nervous the Peloton makes her paint a bleak portrait of a woman in the thrall of a machine designed to erode her spirit as it sculpts her quads.

Others drew sinister parallels to an episode of Black Mirror where an entire society is forced to pedal exercise bikes in order to keep the power turned on and where there is no escape from the video screens on all sides. The actor/businessman Ryan Reynolds hired the “Peloton wife” to star in a quickie ad for his “Aviator Gin” where the woman downs three martini glasses’ worth of alcohol in an attempt to forget her year of cyclo-suffering. Peloton’s stock took a $1.5 Billion-with-a-B hit in the wake of the commerical’s release — but to be fair, that dip did not erase the 48% lift the stock saw during October and November as the market breathlessly anticipated the purchase of who-knows-how-many $2,245 exercise bikes.

Much of the criticism leveled at the ad was of the OMG Y U SO SEXIST nature, but I’d like to suggest that there’s nothing sexist about it — or at least, there’s nothing misogynist about it. This isn’t a straightforward advertisement. It’s not even an aspirational advertisement. Rather, it is fantastical, and that makes a big difference.

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The New Chevrolets, 42 Years Later

This past summer, I had a need, as I often do, for frozen Jewel-brand Supreme pizzas, Gordon’s gin, Canada Dry tonic water, and other miscellaneous must-have household items. As is my wont, I headed over to the nearby Jewel-Osco to restock, and as I parked, what did I spy, but this rough but still running silver-over-gray 1977 Caprice Classic sedan. Rough. But still with us!

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The Audio Equipment I Regret Not Having Bought, Way Back When (Part 1)

darTZeel NHB-108 model one stereo power amplifier

Regrets, I have a few… even about reviewer-loan audio equipment I now wish I had bought, way back when.

The first audio magazine I wrote for was Wayne Green’s Digital Audio magazine. The première issue came out in September, 1984. The articles listed on the cover included “How to Buy Your First CD Player.” (Snort.) I was the founding classical-music columnist (“Classical ReMarks”).

I got that columnist job by pure happenstance. Someone I knew (Chuck Dougherty) worked for the regional hi-fi chain Tweeter, Etc. Chuck also was a computer whiz who moonlighted writing for one of Wayne Green’s computer magazines. Word got around to Chuck that Wayne Green Enterprises needed someone who knew about classical music, and who also could write. Seeing as I was already writing reviews of classical music concerts and recitals for the Providence Journal, I seemed to be a good fit. Wayne Green’s little publishing empire was based in New Hampshire. As it happened, I was visiting New Hampshire frequently, in that I was organizing and presenting the chamber-music performing-arts series at Thomas More College in Merrimac.

While writing for Digital Audio, I not only reviewed CDs and wrote a column; I also interviewed musicians, including André Watts, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Joseph Silverstein. Although my duties did not include equipment reviews, I did have occasion to drool over (or lust over) some pieces of gear. I moved on to the Planet HiFi website (which was where I first reviewed audio equipment, and not just recordings), and then back to print journalism, first with The Absolute Sound, and then Stereophile.

Please note, this mini-series is limited to products that I had the opportunity to hear in my home, as part of a formal review process. There are many excellent products I would consider buying, but which I just have not had the opportunity to hear at home; the best examples I can think of at the moment are the excellent radial loudspeakers from MBL.

After the jump, I recall some of the “big-fish” (as well as some “little fish”) audio-review-loan components that got away. Continue Reading →

Why Is Nobody Making the Best Toaster Ever Made?

Being a harmonica enthusiast isn’t the only thing I have in common with Elwood Blues. I also love me some toasted bread, though I actually prefer egg challah with sweet butter and strawberry preserves, to dry, white toast. To make toast these days, most folks either use a toaster oven, which to me seems like overkill for just a couple of slices, or a pop-up electric toaster. While both of those will char bread quite adequately, I prefer to use the best bread toaster ever made, a Sunbeam Radiant Control toaster, in my case a model T-35, made sometime between 1958 and 1967, close to my own vintage.

While America was busy making rockets and inventing solid state integrated circuits to put men on the moon, an appliance company was using basic physics and mechanics to make an automatic toaster the likes of which has never been improved upon. Continue Reading →

(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Church Of England Edition

I apologize for the slow pace of posts around here. It’s not that I don’t have some great work on deck by Ronnie, John Marks, and others — rather, it’s the fact that I went on an eight-day trip without my personal laptop.

Part of that trip was to London, to visit my tailor and see the sights. I’m the Anglophile son of an Anglophile mother, and I majored in 18th-century Brit Lit, so I always experience mixed emotions when I visit the City. It’s no longer the same place it was twenty or even five years ago. In 2011, the census showed that only 44% of London’s population was ethnically British; it has to be much less than that now. This is something you can temporarily forget on Jermyn Street or Savile Row, but a couple of hours spent as the only white face on the “Tube” reminded me of the fact sharpish, as they say.

Which is not to say that the UK is required to avoid change; after all, the nation was essentially founded by an act of hostile immigration in 1066. There is, however, something profoundly sad about the collapse of European populations and cultures. Like the dodo, we are basically just going to stand there with a stupid expression while remorseless human predators hunt us to death. Maybe this is simple karma, or one long act of voluntary self-immolation in penance for the Triangle Trade or the atomic bomb or indoor plumbing or Garth Brooks.

Alternately, it’s something far more sinister, which brings me to the books on the table above.

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2010 Mercury Milan Premier: Fusion’s Flossy, Elusive Brother

Note: Here’s an oldie from the old site, in honor of Jack’s own Milan, which I read about over on Hagerty yesterday. While this one wasn’t a manual, during my brief sales career at Dahl Ford, we got in trade an absolutely mint 2007 Fusion SEL, black over tan leather, with rear spoiler. Low mileage, one owner. Many, many people zeroed in on it due to its color combo and great shape, then veered off when they saw the stick shift. To this day, I can’t remember if we sold it or wholesaled it at auction. -TK

Et tu, FoMoCo? Yes, during its last decade of existence, Mercury, those Fords in tuxedos, were starved of fresh product and left to wither. Instead of a notchback Cougar version of the new-for-2005 Mustang (which your author really, REALLY wanted to see in production), they got…the Monterey minivan.

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Weekly Roundup: The Silver Queen Of North Carolina Edition (With Video!)

For the first time in my life, I heard about the naturalness, tradition and superior flavor of New Jersey produce. “Taste-wise, nothing compares to Jersey Silver Queen,” the New Yorkers declared, clawing at ears of a fat-kerneled, North Carolina-grown supersweet hybrid, all sugar and no corn flavor, nothing like Silver Queen. They tossed the husks on the ground for me to rake up.

The depth of our society’s current obsession with food is impossible for me to plumb, and painful for me to contemplate. Observing the central role that consuming food has taken in the lives of so many successful and influential people is enough to bring out my inner Wordsworth:

The food is too much with us, late and soon;
Eating and shitting, we lay waste our powers

Don’t get me wrong — I know why things are this way. We’ve drastically increased the salaries of the upper class while also demanding that they all maintain apartments in our rabbit-warren cities. It’s no great trick for me to find a place to stash an extra motorcycle, mountain bike, stereo system, or automobile; all of these purchases are impossible to contemplate when you’re dropping 2,980 non-deductible dollars a month on a one-bedroom apartment. You can’t even own a lot of clothes, because very few of these places have enough closet space. So what do you with the difference between your $300,000 post-tax annual draw on commission and the $150,000 it costs you to merely exist in Manhattan? You spend $200-300 a day on swallowing things and digesting them. Poof! Problem solved. You’re now free to lecture others on living simply.

This is the lowest form of human existence, really. Even a pig can hunt a truffle. It’s so base that we have to make it complicated. There’s no cultural or contextual apparatus necessary for you to appreciate great art, great music, or great literature; you need only pay attention. Nor do we make it particularly difficult for you to do so. The Internet is free, as are most museums and libraries. Great food, on the other hand, has to erect a Byzantine scaffolding’s worth of intimidation to prevent the unwashed from noting that wine reviews are mostly imaginary or that the color of food plays a large part in what it tastes like.

Alternately, it might be that I have the taste of a twelve-year-old reform-school inmate and am therefore extremely anxious to believe anything that paints foodie-ism as a total fraud. Your choice.

Either way, it’s easy to see why I would be charmed by “Lessons From A Local Food Scam Artist”, from which the opening paragraph derives, and I was — until, of course, things got funky.

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A Tale Of Two White Wagons

There were those who considered Vernon O’Neal a cumbersome and plodding businessman; far more people admired his Texas pluck, which manifested itself in his cheeky exuberance to shake things up. His instincts had paid off quite well; he owned the biggest-by-volume mortuary/ambulance service in the city, which included an all-white fleet of professional vehicles–white, since he believed that while death should be treated seriously, it should not be thought of as something depressing. His newest vehicular acquisition was an Aspen White 1964 Miller-Meteor Cadillac hearse, purchased just three months earlier at a national funeral directors’ convention in Dallas.

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1961 Cadillac Sedan de Ville: The Color of Money

It’s hard to believe in 2019, but when the 1961 Cadillacs first appeared in autumn 1960, they were considered subdued. Well, consider the all-time wild and crazy 1959 Cadillac: The year GM took Cadillac and cranked it up to 11. Yep! Wild, crazy, luxurious, huge, all-American. And with fins you could see from space.

1959 Eldorado Biarritz at the 2015 CLC show in Brookfield, Wisconsin

Chrome, fins till next Tuesday, and the mind-boggling showgirl, even among fellow ’59 Caddys, the Eldorado Biarritz convertible. Some parking garages wouldn’t let 1959 Cadillacs park inside, because they were so big.

1960 Cadillac Series 62 owned by Josh Noiles

Then 1960 came. While the same basic body carried over, the most over-the-top-details from 1959 were removed. And actually, I prefer the ’60 Cadillac to the ’59, it just seems more elegant.

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