So, with the, ahem, health events, shall we say? I’ve been in a sort of office/home/grocery store limbo. Ordinarily during Memorial Day weekend, I would have spent Saturday morning driving to Chicagoland for the Shirey Cadillac all-GM classic car show, in Oak Lawn.
It’s time for another game of Who Gets Fired And Who Gets Promoted In The Current Year Edition. Today, our two contestants are:
* someone whose parents engaged from the Nineties to 2003 in an exhaustively documented process of bribing public officials, creating visas for jobs which did not exist, bringing immigrants to the United States, forcing those immigrants to incur debt with interest rates of 50% or 60% percent, making them sleep 10 or 15 to a room, and then extracting money from their families back home;
* someone whose father said THE N-WORD during an interview in 1983.
One of these people lost their financial support (and effectively, their job) as a consequence of an action taken by their parents. The other one was promoted to staff editor at The New Yorker. Go ahead and guess who is who…
Even though Auburn itself became a victim of the Depression, its timeless beauty transcends the challenging mood of the time; then, now and always. The sun always shines on an Auburn Boattail Speedster.
So, this Wednesday afternoon, it’s a little gloomy and just a bit too cool for sitting out on the deck with a cocktail, but as usual I was perusing car classifieds online, and lo and behold, espied this gem. A 1978 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham coupe.
I’ve always loved the 1977-79 Bonnevilles. The first cars I remember riding in, ever, were my mom’s blue on blue ’77 Volvo 245DL wagon, and my dad’s metallic root beer brown ’79 Bonneville sedan. I have memories of walking around that Pontiac when Dad was washing it, and not being much taller than the bottom of the window sills.
I read John Z. DeLorean’s autobiography about thirty years ago; I was alternately fascinated and horrified. One of our readers, “Reno”, wrote this up as part of a healthcare degree he’s been taking. If you’ve never heard of the fellow beyond his stainless-steel coupe, this is a good place to start!
A healthcare leadership paper about Al Sloan and Charles Kettering would be an interesting intersection of the US automotive industry and cancer care. Alfred Sloan donated $4,000,000 to what was then known as the New York Cancer Hospital, and Charles Kettering agreed to oversee the organization of the cancer research program. At that time Alfred Sloan was the chairman of General Motors and Charles Kettering was Vice President of research at General Motors. These men came from wealthy families and made their fortunes running General Motors and forming Delco (Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co.). Charles Kettering is credited for inventing the electric starting motor at Delco. General Motors acquired Delco through its acquisition of United Motors Corporation in 1918. This is an interesting story, these men were able to position themselves for success through their various family connections and alumni networks. An intriguing story would be the story of a leader that was on the fast track to the top. This leader is the son of immigrants with an unstable home life growing up, making it to the senior executive team of one of the world’s largest corporations and then stepping down to peruse his own interests due to his refusal to comply with the strict hierarchy of a ridged corporate culture. A leader that would fit that description would be John Z. DeLorean.
I found this today while looking for something else entirely. Oh, to be a racer in the Kelly Girl (later, of course, just “Kelly American”) Challenge! Racing against famous and soon-to-be-famous people! Driving 1976 Cutlasses and whatnot! Would people come to see races today with nothing but Honda CR-Vs and the like? These were not particularly rapid events; the one year of results I could find for Mid-Ohio the pole position time was 1:59. My Neon will run a 1:43 on that same track, and my Accord will run a 1:37. But everything’s relative, of course, and I think it would have been great to see these big coupes (and, apparently, the occasional Granada sedan) bash it out.
The spectator stands would fill up for these races pretty quickly. They’d be empty today, of course. Quite a few people have decided they’d rather go iRacing on their home computers than watch someone else compete for real. I can’t argue with this viewpoint, but I’d also like to step into a time machine for just one summer weekend in 1980 or thereabouts. Nothing to do, no screens to contemplate, and a genuine showroom-stock race going on just an hour’s drive away. Here come the Kelly Girl racers!
To Kristen Roupenian’s thousand literary injuries we can now add… perhaps inadvertent plagiarism. The New Yorker just indulged in a posthumous publication of Katherine Dunn’s “The Resident Poet”, and it’s eerily similar to Roupenian’s “Cat Person” despite having been written perhaps forty-five years earlier. Perhaps you don’t know who Katherine Dunn is, and I don’t blame you: she’s one of those obscurely-celebrated, literature-adjacent Boomers who seem more interesting in the rearview mirror, assuming said mirror is also being controlled by someone in her cohort. Her breakout novel of thirty years ago, Geek Love, is discussed by Kirkus like so: “Using drugs, insecticides and radioactivity, Al and his wife Crystal Lil, sometime geek, produce Arturo, a thalidomide child.” The older I get, the less patience I have with this sort of thing, this deliberate wallowing in the disgusting and frankly inhuman. Our modern society has evolved an insane preoccupation with the precise composition and quantity of the food we eat while simultaneously encouraging the wholesale and insensate consumption of trash media. What’s the Latin for unsound mind in sound body?
The New Yorker, of course, doesn’t see it this way. “But I already know,” Gen-X literature-adjacent person Naomi Huffman lectures the readers, “as well as anyone reading this, the reason that Katherine Dunn’s archive is full of work that wasn’t published during her lifetime and why it sat, untouched, for the first few years following her death: the supposedly enlightened institution of American literature has often overlooked the contributions of women. So many have had to wait to be heard. Now it is Katherine Dunn’s turn.” Seven of the ten top books on the NYT bestseller fiction list at this precise moment have been contributed by women; perhaps once Ms. Huffman’s “overlooking” is rectified we can have nine of the ten written by women, or perhaps ten of ten, for maximum diversity. Speaking for the American man, they’re welcome to take Stephen King’s current spot on the list, if they like, since King is also one of those people who requests that you open his book so he can vomit his filth directly into your mind. As a teenager I thought King was edgy and interesting, right up to the point in It where a pre-teen girl requests that she be gangbanged by her best friends and experiences two rockin’ orgasms in the process. I finished the book out of grim literary duty, threw it in a dorm hallway trash can, and never willingly considered King’s “work” again.
“The Resident Poet” is not close to being as awful as It was or Geek Love appears to be. It is depressing, and often artless in the bad sense of the word, but some of it is not unworthy of a brief examination, if only because doing so serves a greater discussion.
I’ve always loved Lincolns and Cadillacs. Lincolns, because my grandfather, Robert Klockau, owned several, and some of my earliest car memories are of riding in the back seat of his navy blue ’77 Mark V, peering thru that most excellent oval opera window with the Lincoln emblem embedded in the glass. Later on, it was traded in on a Rose Quartz metallic 1987 bustle back Continental.
But there were other factors, including the red Matchbox Mark V and blue Pocket Cars Mark IV that were among my favorite toys. Furthermore, once I mastered my first bicycle, one of the places I liked to go was to visit a triple black (meaning matching paint, vinyl top and leather seats) 1971 Continental sedan that lived a couple blocks away from my house.
All the years I checked it out, it never moved. About two feet of the trunk protruded out of the garage opening (both house and garage were circa late 1920s, designed for Model Ts not ’60s and ’70s Broughamasauruses), with the door snugged down to the top of the trunk lid.
Every decade seemingly has its own personal fad. Most recently (and seemingly entering its second decade in the ’20s) it was the combover. Oops, I mean crossover, heh. Before that it was the SUV and before that it was the minivan. But the gotta have it vehicle type in the 1970s was most definitely the personal luxury car.
To wit: A two door coupe or two door hardtop with a long hood, short deck, gigantic doors, and likely sporting a stand-up hood ornament, opera windows, opera lamps, a landau top and wire wheel covers.
This type of very American Motor Vehicle got started in the late 50s with the four-seat 1958 to 1960 Ford Thunderbird. It was followed in roughly chronological order by the 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire, 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix, pricier and more exclusive 1963 Buick Riviera, 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado (with front-wheel drive, wowie zowie!), the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado and the 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III.
It is now Tuesday afternoon (just flashed back to the Moody Blues song, typing this), sitting on the deck with a cocktail and looking at cars I have no room for.
Such is life. But anyway, here’s today’s Klockau Lust Object, a 30,000-mile ’79 Mark V in Dark Turquoise Metallic with matching top and leather interior.