On the Sandy Hook Situation

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We all know what happened so I’m just going to go ahead and skirt any sort of introduction.  The only sense I can make of these things is that maybe there’s some twisted drive for notoriety at all costs that motivates these wing nuts to act out in such atrocious maners.

I understand and respect a lot of folks’ values on human life.   Fact is, though, most if me is glad the shooter is dead.  There is, however,  like 6.2% of me that is pissed that he went and blasted himself because A: We’re never going to REALLY know why and B: We’re never going to be able to study the factors that lead this individual to commit such a heinous act.

That said, though, there is nothing that can be done to rectify what happened that day, as much as we all wish there could. I also wish that I could address the discourse surrounding this awful situation without bias, the way I was trained as a journalist, but I cannot.

Kids died up in there and, frankly, we’re never going to know why. If I thought that banning all firearms or locking up anyone that displayed unusual social behavior would prevent something like this from happening again, I’d be in my car and on the way to Capitol Hill.

It seems that no matter what we do, there’s always going to be some shithead throwing a monkey wrench in on things. And that’s just one of those fucked up truths about life that nobody has the heart to warn us about when we’re young: once in a while, awful and inexplicable crap happens.

But before I crawl off to go weep for a while, I will find a shred of penance in honestly saying, “Fuck you, you sick bastard. I’ve already forgotten your name and I have zero aspirations of looking it up again.”

May peace, someday, find the families of the lost.

Look What Toyota Built Back in ’96 (Detroit should be taking notes)

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That there is a Toyota Classic.  At the beginning of the whole “retro rides are cool” boom, 100 of these things were produced as an homage to Toyota’s original model, the AA.  It was build on an old-school ladder-frame Tacoma chassis and was powered by a little pushrod four-banger.  The interior was an amalgamation if fancy leather, polished wood, and a host of bits and pieces sourced from Toyota’s contemporary models.  All yours for a cool 75 large.

So why should we even bother to think about these overpriced, anemic novelties from over a decade and a half ago?  A few years later, Chrysler offered up its own mid-sized, throw-back 5-door: the infamous PT Loser (Ed note: Cruiser).  It looked (kinda?) cool, was mass-produced, and sported a price tag much more inline with the middle class’ buying power.

The catch was that structurally, the car was little more than a Dodge Neon wagon, complete with wrong wheel drive and the availability of that stupid two liter power plant that necessitated keeping a spare head gasket in the glove compartment.  It’s my understanding that the main allure to yester-year car culture in this fine union of ours was beyond big grilles and funky front fenders and more in tune with the presence of mind-blowing, rear tire-smoking torque figures shoved into a package that had absolutely no business going that fast.

So how could the PT have been saved from becoming the red-headed stepchild of Avis’ rental fleet?  Let’s take a look at Chrysler’s own first model, the 1924 Six.  It boasted hydraulic brakes, a beefy six cylinder engine (complete with changeable oil filter), and a host of other features that are laughable to think of as innovations.

At the time of the PT’s development, Chrysler was churning out droves of its own medium-sized truck frames as foundations for the Dakota line while its Jeep plant was pumping out a modern derivative of the venerable AMC straight-six like its life depended on it.  Like with the Toyota Classic, a modern body could have been designed to capture the classic looks of the Six with enough room in the engine bay for an optional V8.  Hell, they could have even made a ratrod-edition roadster in flat black with red and chrome wheels.  I’m sure we even could have talked some nut like Chip Foose into shoehorning a viper motor (or at least a 318 with a gloriously chromed-up blower poking through the hood) into a show version just for kicks.

Would this theoretical model enjoyed the sales success of the PT?  Probably not.  Would the presence of a legitimate, moderately-priced retro-ride in showrooms have helped us forget that the PT was more or less a contemporary incarnation of the Reliant estate?  I’d like to think so.  Sure there was the Prowler (with it’s Intrepid-derived power train) and an optional turbocharger on the PT but neither package was very conducive to being able to be made to go faster, a hallmark of old-time American motoring.

Fast-forward a decade or so and now Fiat is at Chrysler’s helm and kudos to them for finally ditching the PT.  Retro is out, high-tech handling is in and massive displacement engines are collecting dust like my dad’s Buddy Holly 45s.  So as the Italians are stocking our Chrysler showrooms with genetically-altered Lancias, I ask that they PLEASE send us a version of the Alfa Romeo Brera.  These days, that’s the sort of car has the potential to make us think their company is cool again.

For All the Ladies Who Lunch

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We lost one of the greats this week.

Growing up, Kim and Jeanne were the ‘other moms’ in my life and I affectionately recall adressing them both as the Aunties who weren’t quite related.  Kim was an awesome artist and architect (also procuring some of the most amusing car fail stories EVER) and she was instrumental in influencing me to leave my small-town bubble to persue my role in the world as the free spirited individual that I wish to be.  Here are my Mom’s thoughts on the matter:

Dearest Kim,

I remember the first time I met you in McGhan’s back in – what was it – 1977, 1978..somewhere around there. You walked in with Marty and you were wearing a fox jacket, or something similar, and I’m thinking… “this chick is a bit too chic for me”. But it took maybe 30 seconds to realize what a crazy, lovable, silly, funny, loving person you are. How many wonderfully funny memories there are. Playing hearts with Peter, when we laughed til we cried. The surprise birthday party for Marty six months after his birthday, that you made everybody dress as old people. The night you, Jeanne and I took the boat out for a ride after dinner. The New Year’s Eve video. And then there were all the lake parties. And the lunches with you and Jeanne when I would come back to town. Way too many memories to list…enough to last til the end of time! We had a ton of fun, didn’t we?

Save a table – I’ll join you for lunch when I get there.

Hugs,

Cindy

I found this little gem from back in the Lariat days…

PRO

Keith Cousins

Now, my short-haired opponent will probably spend the majority of his column discussing my alternative choice in hairstyles, and the drinking challenge I issued to settle our argument properly. Since my hair is of no concern to this argument, and a drinking contest is obviously out of the question due to several factors including, but not limited to, my opponent’s lack of courage, let’s discuss the issue.

The benefits of a pub on campus are twofold. One, by having a pub on campus, it encourages students who are over 21 to actually go to campus. “Hey man, let’s go to the pub after class,” as opposed to, “Let’s buy some forties and ditch class.” It promotes class attendance, and with that boost in class attendance comes better grades and more students transferring to four-year colleges.

Secondly, the pub promotes the atmosphere of an actual university. With the increased presence of students on campus comes an increased participation in going to athletic events and other school-run functions. This would create a campus that college students are both proud to attend and that boasts involved students.

I won’t even go into the increased revenues the school will receive, but instead would like to respond to the inevitable cons.

Of course, the success of a pub on campus would be entirely in the hands of the students themselves. If we could be responsible and use designated drivers or take the bus, then the complaint that it is a safety hazard because this is a commuter school becomes invalid.

Another concern would be with underage students either gaining access to the pub or getting in using a fake ID. Having a staff at the pub that not only know how to spot a fake ID, but also are diligent enough to monitor the students who come in and check their IDs, easily solves both of these problems.

Let’s make Saddleback College a college where students don’t just go to class and zip straight home after. Let’s make the college one were students have pride in being Gauchos. A campus pub will help make that dream become a reality.

CON

Tim White

What my long-haired opponent doesn’t seem to understand is the vulgarity implied by accusing someone of stepping down from a challenge, without at least extending the courtesy of first inviting them to said contest. Would it not lead one to think that this libelous proclamation was likely made to defend one’s own liquor-holding inadequacies?

The truth of it is that I would clearly be the victor. First off, I’m bigger than he is, and anyone who has been to remedial traffic school knows that more body mass equals a gnarlier booze capacity. Secondly, I’m of German stock: enough said. Lastly, I’ve been at this awhile. I began shot-gunning cans of Labatt at some point in the mid-’90s and have been rigorously training for situations like this ever since.

I say, bring it on, Cousins.

But I digress. If I’ve read the memo correctly, it seems that we’re discussing the feasibility of serving booze on the Saddleback campus. Are you kidding me? Don’t we have enough of a truancy issue as it is?

Lest I remind you, before you rage out because there are other colleges that have bars, Saddleback is a strictly a commuter school. Even the people that live across the street drive here. On-campus housing is a key factor to the success of a campus pub. There’s no “scene” here after suppertime, the time when people typically go to bars, which leads me to my next point.

Since nobody is around here to drink at night, then the drinking will have to occur during the day. Is it wise to be promoting liquid lunches to community college students? That sort of thing can only lead to lifetimes of broken dreams and Ted Kennedy noses. We’d be stumbling around like civil servants at the Kremlin.

As enticing as a nice chianti sounds alongside my next order of Sunshine Chicken Strips, there’s just no way to avoid a Saddleback pub being way lame. With no residency scene on campus and a clientele of lunchtime lushes, it’ll just end up infested with ornery, happy-hour-heroes that never figure out why they can’t hold down jobs. The last thing we want to do is invite a pod of total buzz kills to start congregating on campus. That’s why there are strip clubs.

Originally published, for fun, here.