Last year, I shared my friend Laurie Kraynick’s relationship with her 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. While the Caddy looked great in the pictures, it needed refurbishment. New top, new headliner, some metalwork and eventually, a repaint in the original factory color of Lucerne Aqua Firemist. Such things take time, but progress took a huge jump forward this winter! If you missed the original Broughamtastic post, you can find the link right here! Read on, in Laurie’s own words. -TK
And now for something really important… The Ark is done with Restoration Phase 1 (vinyl top removal/sheet metal work/vinyl top replacement/NOS script installation/new headliner/restored original visors/painting of trims exterior and interior). Phase 2 is next winter, proper paint color and body work. The receipts have been tallied and the cost for Phase 1 exceeds what some folks make in a year, and it was a bargain at twice the price. The top of the car, in and out, looks like its 1970 again. Blisteringly extraordinary work performed by the best in the auto restoration business, you get what you pay for.
Thanks to family friends who knew of my love of cars, on two separate occasions I got a large cache of old car brochures from the 1970s and 1980s, which made my addiction to vintage car literature much more acute. Thus began a wild and amazing spending spree on eBay starting in about 1999. By then, I was naturally a bit more interested in the lovely ladies featured in many of these 1970s brochures.
I don’t think James Patrick Page was the first musician to understand the power of sharp contrast in a performance; anyone who has ever heard the entire violin section of a symphony start bowing at once, after a period of silence, has experienced and understood it himself. Page’s insight, rather, was that the recording studio and home reproduction equipment had evolved to a point where what he called “light and shade” could be expressed on vinyl. The early wax cylinders of Edison didn’t have enough dynamic range for “Ramble On”, nor did the average unamplified phonograph of the immediate postwar era. Certainly a single-speaker car radio couldn’t handle it. You need “hi-fi” for a Zep album to truly work.
Incidentally, this is why “Stairway to Heaven” loses much of its punch on the radio: it’s heavily compressed by specialized equipment designed to maintain volume and, consequently, the listener’s attention.
Mr. Page was also not the last artist to understand light and shade. The sophomoric mewlings of bands like Evanescence and Limp Bizkit prove that their long-suffering producers, at least, have a grip on the subject. Modern EDM relies on it as well, as a cursory listen to “Feel So Close” by Calvin Harris will demonstrate. In fact, one could make an argument that the intellectual value of music can probably be approximated by its compression level: a Telarc classical disk would score a 9.9 and Ariana Grande would get a 0.1. If you can listen to “squeezed” music at maximum volume for more than ten minutes at a time, I fear for your humanity.
Which brings us, however awkwardly, to the matter at hand.
You really don’t see as much of this anymore, for several reasons: first, manufacturers no longer have the kind of mad money it takes to design, produce and market vehicles that disrespect the economies of scale. Also, the once-vaunted “halo effect” is increasingly irrelevant to consumers–after all, is the average Altima or Civic buyer the least bit influenced by the existence of the GT-R or NSX?
And then there’s the matter of political correctness; seriously, if a car maker offered a model geared toward a specific gender or other personal demographic today, howls of protest would reverberate, boycotts would form, and the offender would be made to attend automotive sensitivity training conducted by a newly formed Federal Department of Indignation Resolution.
I will admit to being fascinated by vanity plates. I’ve had a few, all of them bad. In fact, now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a genuinely witty one, on my car or others. There is something intrinsically pathetic about wanting people to be impressed or enlightened by your plate. With that said, I also admire the spirit of paying a couple extra bucks to avoid wearing what amounts to a state identification number on your vehicle.
Still. The worst plates are the ones which simply restate the badge on the car, and I’ve been guilty (“E46 3LTR”, “DISCO”) a few times. My old mentor in the pimp game, the Big Dog, was infamous for doing this (“TDI Q7”). He would also make bad puns in steel — “AUDIOS” comes to mind. The worst one he ever had was when he picked up two Range Rover 4.6 Vitesses, one in red and the other in eye-searing yellow. The plate: “TWEETY”.
After seeing the above at a Michigan gas station, however, I’m thinking that “TWEETY” wasn’t that bad.
For a long time now, and this has little to do with political ideologies, I’ve wanted cabinet level secretaries to the president of the United States to pass a small test of practical skills, just to see how much real world experience they have. Can they change a flat tire without using some misandristly promoted Geico app? Can they solder two copper wires together? I’m not asking about welding, mind you, that’s a fairly technical skill, just if they can do some basic soldering. For the matter, could they connect two wires using a wire nut? Do they even know what a wire nut is? If you gave them just some long two-by-fours, a saw, a hammer, some nails, and a tape measure, could they frame a square wall, even if you spotted them the tip that it has something to do with diagonals? Do they know how to hammer a nail?
I’m also old enough to remember when hardly any newspaper reporters called themselves journalists, or graduated from J-schools. They weren’t about afflicting the comfortable, they were about the five Ws, and getting scoops. They didn’t look down on working class folks because they regarded themselves as working class folks. I’d be willing to bet $100 that the vast majority of self-identified “journalists” today, though, can’t do any of the skills in my Cabinet Level test. I’d be willing to bet $500 that most think they’re too smart to do stuff like welding or carpentry.
Thus it did not surprise me, when in the wake of massive layoffs in the online “news” and opinion industry, blue-checked journalists on Twitter ascended the heights of dudgeon because some snarky folks told them to “learn to code”.
Talia Lavin, who proved that incompetency as a fact-checker and defaming an American hero as a neo-Nazi is no impediment to getting another gig when you’re a narrative-carrying lefty, decided that “learn to code” was an alt-right plot against the good and righteous scribes busy comforting the afflicted. Her piece at The New Republic was titled, “The Fetid, Right-Wing Origins of “Learn to Code”.
Not wanting to be hoist on the same petard that their journalist colleagues have been jabbing at unemployed folks in America’s formerly great industrial heartland whose jobs “weren’t coming back”, some still-employed journos used the fact that favoring blue-check journalists is part of Twitter’s business model of getting folks to create content for the site for free — so they got Twitter to suspend the “learn to code” tweeters.
Ben Popken now covers business for NBC. His Twitter bio, if I recall correctly, brags about being a founder of consumerist.com and that the site was bought by Consumer Reports. It doesn’t say that CR fired him in 2011 and shuttered the site in 2017. Popken apparently felt that telling a journalist, unemployed or not, that learning a marketable skill was beyond the pale of civil discourse. He posted, bragging:
“”Learn to code” was tweeted at me by a sketchy account. I reported it as abusive behavior as part of targeted harassment. Twitter suspended the account within 20 minutes. Journalists if they tweet “learn to code” at you don’t stay silent, take a moment to report it…”
“Grandpa Ben, tell us again how bravely you fought in the Meme Wars.”
Now I’m not a big Twitter user. I’m not even sure how to use the site’s features, but now and then I’ll agree or take issue with something I’ll see that had been posted there. I wondered if Popken specifically thought that “learn to code” was abusive behavior or if he thought any kind of manual labor was beneath his social and intellectual station and thus suggesting he learn those trades would be an affront to his honor.
I sent him the following tweet. Note that it’s a question, not a directive.
@RonnieSchreiber@bpopken How about learn to weld?
I guess you need thick skin to learn to weld, as my Twitter account was suspended by that evening, presumably at the behest of Mr. Popken. I could get back on Twitter if I would delete the offending tweet, but instead I appealed the suspension, pointing out that Mr. Popken’s concerns were about “learn to code” and I never mentioned coding. If I wanted to be genuinely snarky, I would have pointed out to him that while his journo friends were getting pink-slipped and shit-canned, I was offered a pretty sweet regular freelance writing gig. I guess there is more of a market for folks who know how to do research and construct a sentence than there is for listicle and quiz compilers.
Twitter, or their algorithms, rejected my appeal. I’m not deleting the tweet, however, unless having a Twitter account becomes a condition of employment in a job that I really want. Oh well, I managed to survive more than six decades without a single tweet, I’ll survive without them.
To be clear, it wouldn’t be true to say that I know how “to code”. The last program I wrote was in Algol during college, over 40 years ago. The only coding that I do today is to modify a config file for something like one of my 3D printers, but I’m pretty sure that Ben Popken couldn’t do that either. See, the thing is, what journalists don’t seem to realize is that they don’t know how much they don’t know. Nobel Prize winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann pointed out that if you’re knowledgeable about a topic you can quickly see how many mistakes journalists make on that subject. They may be writing about physics or computer science, but they went to journalism schools, they didn’t major in STEM.
If I make a mistake when writing about code, that article can still be published. If I make a mistake when writing code, the program won’t work. If I can’t make a living with the skills that I have, maybe I should learn new skills.
Thanks to everyone who contacted me about our HTTPS certificate expiring today. Renewing it was on my “to-do” list but I didn’t do it.
For those of you who don’t know how this stuff works: nothing bad happened, I just forgot to renew the thing that keeps all the browsers showing that little green lock next to the address.
Also, apropos of nothing, I just got some analytics done on the site. We are averaging about 9,200 unique “real people” on the site per month. So we are about one-tenth as big as TTAC right now. Our growth is slow but steady; TTAC’s implosion is proceeding a little faster. When the lines cross we’ll have a party.
The Chicago Auto Show is an institution. I attended my first in 1988. I was in third grade, and my parents took me up. It was a revelation for eight year old me. Cars, cars everywhere! Two floors of cars! And concepts, and free brochures! Good Lord, this must be what heaven is like!
Suffice it to say, I was hooked. And while we didn’t attend every single year, we went most years between the late ’80s and late ’90s. There was always something to see. And we’d wander around Chicago as well. It was fun, being in the big city for the weekend.
The most recent year I attended was 2015, when my brother and I took a weekday off from work and drove up for the day. Since then, the weather has conspired to be exceptionally nasty, so as to prevent my willingness to make the three hour drive.
In case you’ve taken a trip to the outer dimensions in the last week or so, I’ll let you know that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, after making the pitch that perhaps “non-viable” babies who’ve somehow managed to survive being born should be aborted anyway, was called on the carpet before the perpetually aggrieved of America for possibly appearing in either blackface or a KKK costume in a photo found in his college yearbook. Damn, the Internet is undefeated. (Also, please don’t doxx me. Thanks.)
But, surprisingly, the drama didn’t end there. After a long, perplexing news conference in which the governor refused to resign (and also came seriously close to moonwalking), the attention turned to some allegations against his potential successor, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, that had been reported to the Washington Post over a year ago. Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College and a graduate fellow at Stanford University, is the woman who made the accusation that Fairfax had sexually assaulted her in 2004, and she has now hired the same legal team that represented Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony against then-Supreme Court Judicial nominee Brett Kavanaugh. It should be noted that Professor Scripps appears to be solidly left in her writings.
In short, both the Governor and Lt. Governor of Virginia might be taken down by tactics previously employed by the left in this country to get rid of Republicans they don’t like—difficult to prove, possibly spurious accusations of racism and sexual assault.
However, the same group that told us we must #believeallwomen just a few short months ago seems hesitant to believe Lt. Gov. Fairfax’s accuser. In fact, they don’t even want to discuss it.
I’ve been kind of blowing up RG with Broughams lately. “Klockau, geez man, ANOTHER ’70s tuna boat. Fercryinout loud!” Whoops. But hey, it’s not intentional. I just keep seeing vintage land yachts out and about, and have to immediately write it up. It’s an incurable issue with me. I love pretty much all classic and vintage cars, but it seems I always gravitate back to Broughamville. Caprice Classics, Fleetwood Talismans, Bonneville Broughams, 98 Regencys. I can’t help it, man!
So now that that’s out of the way, here’s another one. A 1976 Chevrolet Impala Landau coupe, espied by yours truly on one of the FB groups I’m on, Finding Future Classic Cars. A rare birdie. In 1976, Landau was king. And Chevrolet offered both Caprice Classic and Impala Landau trim packages, consisting of the aforementioned Landau vinyl roof in elk-grain vinyl, color-keyed wheel discs, sport mirrors and custom pinstriping.
Of the two full-size B-Body Landaus, the Caprice Classic was the clear sales winner, with 21,926 of the $5,284 coupes sold.