Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Bye, Bye, Miss American.......CAR!

It's really getting depressing to see the state of the American auto industry anymore.  The flair and flash of designs has been diminished to something resembling a jelly bean.  Oddly enough, I'm writing this on the 120th birthday of Raymond Loewy, the most prolific industrial designer in modern history.  Some of the bold and imaginative designs he did were the 1951 and 1953 Studebakers, the Studebaker Hawks and the Avanti, plus many other products and logos.  Back then, it was the style of a car that mattered.  Designers sketched cars to catch your eye, to thrill you enough to buy one.  These days, our jelly bean vehicles are marketed on gadgets, gimmicks, and prestige.  Very little goes into radical styling any more.
The auto industry has weathered some tough times over the years, and many of the multitude of makes and models no longer exist.  Forward looking companies such as Studebaker and Packard are but memories.  Gone also, is Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, and others.  Many died from deep financial wounds, some from corporate downsizing, and a few from excessive government regulations.  I highly doubt anyone on congress is bright enough to design cars, much less run the country.  Their thinking is molded by lobbyists and their money.  Yes, some of the safety laws are fine, but why make them a law?  Why not have the manufacturers add them out of the desire to build safer autos?  Some of the other laws are obvious nods to the big money benefactors.  Remember the 5 MPH bumpers in the early 1970's?  What ugly appendages on what were still some good looking cars!  Worse yet, the anti-theft steering column lock which is my pet peeve.  They can be defeated by any two-bit criminal in an instant, yet car owners must suffer the indignity of jamming the ignition key in the steering column, rather in the dash, where God intended it!
Mileage laws and targets are another factor.  A manufacturer must meet an average fuel mileage figure for all the models it produces.  That's why all our vehicles today are shaped like jelly beans.  This is done to make them more aerodynamic, and cut fuel wasting drag.  Funny how a 1959 Studebaker Lark got 29mpg with a nearly flat front end!

Instead, manufacturers copy each others tricks and trade secrets.  If a car is a best seller, you can bet all the other manufacturers will produce an awfully similar one soon.  Why not drop the rules and oversight, and just build good looking vehicles again?  We've done it before, we can do it even better now.  Let's replace the "Our cars look just like their cars" motto with "We build excitement!" again?

If you build it, they will come........ 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Twerky Trot

A few weeks ago, television viewers were forced to endure the American Music Awards, which have nothing much to do with music.  Awards are given for lame lyrics, inane squawking, and sounding like a chicken getting slaughtered.  Sadly, that's the state of music today. 
As the numerous "acts" took the stage to fill in the dead parts of the show, viewers were treated to a former Disney star, who was determined to show just how far she had gone from her squeaky clean image.

Miley Cyrus came onstage wearing a rather dumb looking outfit, and danced with a rather untalented gent in a Beetlejuice outfit.  She suddenly striped it off, to reveal she was wearing flesh colored plastic underwear.  She began to dance around, attacking her beavage with a giant foam "hand", while grinding into "Beatlejuice".  The current term for this is "Twerking" and viewers at home were up in arms.  They covered their children's eyes and railed about how far down the sewer hole youth had gone.  
These were the same parents who grew up in the "Swinging 70's", dancing in discos, and doing "The Bump".  Same dance move, different name.  Of course it wasn't obscene back then!

Pop music has always had a lameness to it, that had to be covered up by some sort of activity.  This was nothing more than a continuation of that.
I didn't hear a thing about Michael Jackson constantly grabbing his crotch in videos yelling "OOOOH!"
Nor the same thing from Justin Beiber, who grabs himself as if looking for something.....  Try tying a string on it Beibs!

The bottom line is that all these antics take the place of real talent.  Few performers actually go onstage and show their real talent.  When is the last time you heard a singer without a group of dancing people around them?   Why not stand there and belt out the song?  

It's like the Wizard of Oz..."Don't look behind the curtain......."  No one displays their musical talent anymore, they just rely on flash, innuendo, and shock to make their names.

Perhaps they ought to call the award "The Crotchy".

Saturday, August 3, 2013

In The News.......

Dateline Alaska....

I stand gazing out at one of the State's proudest accomplishmentsI-0, commonly known as "The Highway to Nowhere"  A 213 7\8 mile 4 lane divided highway, stretching from the middle of Obscure Lake, all the way to a point in the Tundra 109 miles from the tiny settlement of Dung.  The road has no interchanges, no on or off ramps, only rest areas.  It was ordered, and completed, during Sarah Palin's time as Alaska's governor.  

I'm here today at one of the many rest stop\shooting ranges, this one known as the "Shoot and Shit", to hear Palin launch her exploratory committee for a run for State Senator.  

"I'd like to thank you all for coming out today" she shouted to the dense crowd of about 8 people and dogs.  "I'm here to see if I want to run for senator of this great state!"  "You remember me as your governor, and all the great things I did."   "That's why I was chosen to be almost president of this country."  She continued;  "For example, look at this beautiful highway behind us.  No cars or trucks on it to get it dirty, no oil drips from vehicles to mar it's beauty", she added.  "Just 4 lanes of beautiful concrete cutting a swath through our great State."  "I can imagine those Ruskies looking over here and marveling at my accomplishments, and my beautiful highway!"  Just then, someone in the crowd yelled "What about Canada?"  "I don't care about that state", she shot back.  "That state can do anything it wants, but it can't top our Alaska!"  "That's why our state's star is at the center of all the others on the flag, shining the brightest."

"And so I'm here today, to ask you to give all you can and more, to help me finance my exploratory bid for the Senate."  "Exploritatin' doesn't come cheap, as that Lewis and Clarkson guys found out when they discovered the Rocky Mountains."  "They had to spend a fortune on guns, and people to carry them around."  "So please dig deep and give more than you can afford, so I can be your Senator and support Bristol before she gets knocked up again!"

A smattering of applause greeted her as she stepped down from the hastily built podium.  Just then, a family of moose sauntered across the highway, oblivious to the goings on just beyond them.  Palin whipped out her NRA mandated, conceal-carried bazooka, aimed, and fired.  In an instant, the highway was littered with blood, flesh, and more blood.  "Lunch is on me", she yelled, "As soon as you all clean up that mess on my road!" 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Saluting American Pride!

Independence day has come and gone, and as a country, we are full of pride in not only what we did in the past, but what we can do in out future.  We hear patriotic boasting that we are the best country on earth, because we have all this pent-up American pride.  It seems a bit silly, since we have most "American" products made in other countries.
Whatever happened to the pioneering spirit we once had?  Does every business venture have to end in the principals getting wealthy, while ignoring the American people who need those jobs?

Years ago, I had gone to a local store to replace a rather singed and ratty oven mit.  I found one, picked it up, and examined it.  Nothing fancy, nothing more than a throw-away product.  I was surprised to read the tag attached to his item.  It told all about the company that made it...Right here in the USA...and the pride they took in producing it.  I felt a rush of patriotism and bought two of them!  This happened over 20 years ago, but these "throw-away" items are still in use today, holding up, and doing their job!
So I have to ask, "why isn't that pride, that sense of accomplishment, still prevelant in America?"  The pride this company had in producing a simple item really hit me.  Where is that pride today?
Jobs are scarce in this country.  Most work is farmed out to countries where labor is cheap, so CEO's and others can make maximum profits.  Working Americans are offered low-wage, part-time jobs instead of something they can support their family on.  Is this the country our forefathers envisioned?

Yes it took something simple to bring home the idea that the American dream isn't dead yet, tho forces are at work to make sure it does indeed die.

Buy products produced right here, and support your friends and neighbors.  Boycott anything that isn't sourced from the good old USA.  And buy this company's products, for they are one of the few keeping the American dream alive!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Paradise Lost"

I grew up in a small town south of Chicago Illinois.  As a post-war baby, and part of a generation that is growing older,  I find myself looking back into the past for enjoyment.  Many of us have social networking accounts, and have discovered long lost friends and neighbors through them.  Many, if not all, have moved away from the old towns and neighborhoods, and have put down roots all across the country.  But nearly everyone has paid a visit to the old haunts, and hangouts, and expressed shock at how they've changed.  Some have been re-purposed, some torn down, and others left to decay.  It's a common theme on the sites;  "I can't believe what happened to ________!"  You can pretty much fill in the blank with any place you went as a child.

Growing up post-war, we had an abundance of skilled people leaving the service ready to begin new lives.  They were confident, and ready to make their mark in society.  For many, returning to their hometown was the choice.  Working at the family business, and someday inheriting it was a rite of passage.  Locals shopped in the stores, hired local contractors for work, and kept the economy thriving.  As children, we were introduced to local shopkeepers almost like they were family.  They knew us by name, and often offered a small treat when we would visit.  Later, those same shopkeepers would give us our first job, and teach us responsibility.  Sadly, those shops are gone.

At some point in the 1950's and 1960's, Large shopping malls and strip malls came into vogue.  All the stores you would ever want, grouped together for convenience!  It was a real adventure going to a mall with more people than you'd see in a week at the local store!  Everything packaged and on display for you to buy, and then get on your busy way.  There was no small talk with the shopkeeper, no friendly greeting, just get in, buy and leave.  As the malls became more prevalent, the local shops began to close up due to lack of business.  They didn't have the selection, nor the prices the larger stores had.  One by one, they would vanish from the landscape, and more and more people were forced into the malls to buy their items.  The local grocery stores met the same fate at the hands of the large chain supermarkets.  The town I grew up in, had a population of around 2000, yet had two thriving grocery stores, yet by the time I was a teenager, both were gone.

As time went by, the thought of finding a job in a small town seemed impossible, as there wasn't much left to the business district.  Large chain stores would buy up land on the outskirts, and build their stores.  It had to be bigger and better, and higher profits for the corporate bean-counters!  With the change in business climate, came a change in the population.  More families were moving from the city, to the cheaper homes in the surrounding areas.  Their culture and lifestyles were a shock to the old timers, who moved away in droves.  Crime followed the newcomers, and became a catalyst to make even the hardiest old timer sell out.  The few hardy souls that stayed, found the value of their houses plummet as the crime rate rose, and what was once a "nice little town" become a "bad area".  It took less than a generation to undo years of pride and progress!

And now the same towns devastated by the influx of malls, are finding that the malls are failing as well!  I suppose it's poetic justice that the undoing of  Main Street,  has come full circle.  It's a pity we can't bring back the way things were....when they worked, and have to rely on memories and photos of our proud past!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pullin' the Bull Over Your Eyes

We are a nation of followers, not leaders.  We make our decisions by what information we are fed, and how it is presented.  We sometimes declare our allegiance to an idea that would normally be opposite to our beliefs.
The reason I say this is because of the gun control debate. People are being fed information that is contrary to common sense, and they end up repeating it, and further expounding on it.  Whoever made up the story that "the government is going to take your guns" must be smiling right now.  The paranoid oddballs that believe this are frothing at the mouth over it.  As time goes by, more and more "facts" get attached to the story.  Soon, it becomes the gospel truth, and the believers, fraught with fear, buy and hoard guns and ammunition.  Of course, this creates a windfall for gun shops, and gun and ammunition makers.  At over $1K a pop, every assault rifle purchased makes the smile on these  opportunists larger.
The manufacturers have paid the NRA to do their bidding, by forcing congress to pass laws to promote gun buying through....bull!  The "Stand Your Ground laws they passed are just an example.  You can shoot people that appear threatening to you, and get away with it.  The only way to be safe, is for everyone to be armed, and to shoot anyone who shoots first.  What a circus!  What could possibly go wrong with such a plan?  The death tolls from these incidents would go through the roof, with wanna-be Rambos whipping out their guns and shooting in the direction of the gunfire.  How many innocent people would be hit by bullets?
Sadly, the bull machine has been working overtime on this one, but this is far from the first heap of flung dung!

Remember the Iraq "war"?  How a simple lie to start an invasion, blossomed into trillions of dollars being wasted?   Billions went to the companies that make the weapons, and other gear of war, with additional billions for other companies to clean up the mess we made.  Remember how it started?  Bin Laden took credit for the carnage that was 9\11, and fled to Pakistan.  Instead of chasing him down and extracting justice, the US began a huge effort to promote the invasion of Iraq.  After all, there isn't much profit in capturing a terrorist, but a good old fashioned "war" means profits aplenty!  Never mind that the Bin Laden family happened to be business partners with the President's family.  Never mind that the vice-President's former company would reap billions in profits by being selected to provide ground services for the troops.  The manure was flying faster and faster as we geared up for an invasion.  Some people questioned the rhetoric and the actions, and were promptly chastised as being Communists, or sympathizers.  When France saw through this charade and said "no" to joining our invasion, we heard that they were cowards, afraid to help out the US.  Remember how we were taught to have so much disdain for their  "cowardice" that we no longer used the words "French Fries", instead we called them "Freedom Fries"!  Freedom from what?  
Tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children died, and thousands of our own troops were killed due to this complete and utter lie!
Now our cowardly lawmakers are pushing to have armed citizens in our schools, armed teachers, even armed custodians!  Imagine sending your child to what's being run like an interment camp.  "Duck and cover kids, because Mr. Jenkins is having a bad day"! The crack of gunfire as all the armed "grownups" fire back wildly, without any idea who the actual shooter is.
It's time we cut through the crap, learned the facts ourselves, without any of the pure bull we're being handed, and brought the country back to sanity.

I'm in the mood for some french fries...........!

Monday, April 8, 2013


We learned today of the death of Annette Funicello, one of our generation's favorite stars.  She came to our attention through a television program called "The Mickey Mouse Club".  The program was a variety show more or less, with skits, singing and dancing, and filmed shorts like "Spin and Marty" aimed at children.

I was one of those children in the 1950's who was captivated by that show.  We would turn on our Philco TV, with a screen the size of a dessert plate crossed with a saucer, and patiently wait for it to warm up and display images of the show.  I wasn't really knowledgeable about Disney characters back then, as Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker seemed to rule the screen.  Still, I was fascinated by images of a world like I could never imagine.  It all seemed unreal to a young kid in the 50's!  Annette was always the star of the show.  It's funny how being so young, I still knew there was something special about her.  
Shortly thereafter, Walt Disney had a show called "The Wonderful World of Disney", if memory serves me correctlyI still remember the show where he introduced the country to "Disneyland"It was something beyond what a kid my age could even imagine!
But then, the 1950's were a time when anything seemed possible.  Even growing up poor, you had access to things that today would be beyond your reach.  We were urged to"See the USA, in your Chevrolet" during commercials, and I often thought of making a trip to this new "Disneyland" place when I got older.  Television seemed to provide a window to a whole new existence.  The "Can-Do" American spirit pervaded every aspect of our daily lives.
For we had just recently won WWII, sent the Germans and the Japanese packing with good old American might.  The back pages of magazines of the era were packed with ads for $5 surplus jeeps, or motorcycles.  How I wanted a few of each, yet never managed to get such a huge sum of money!

As I got older, Annette still ruled the screen, but now it was the silver screen.  Our country was still the best on earth, and the standard of living was still high.  I remember still how much I wanted one of those new-fangled Honda motorbikes, because "You meet the nicest people on a Honda", not to mention prices started at $215, still a princely sum for me.  Instead, I spent all my savings, a total of $7.50, on 1/2 of a 1949 Chevrolet 4-door.  Pretty much all that was left of the body was metal the rust seemed to overlook.  I wasn't going to see the USA in this bomb!  Still, when you're 13 years old, I suppose that's right up there with winning the Lotto!

As time passed and we grew older, the tone of the entire country had changed.  It was a more somber America, no longer believing in itself as the mightiest nation on earth.  We were in the throes of a "police action" in the far-off country of Vietnam, and thousands of our generation were getting sent over to fight.  The mood at home was anger, because this war wasn't about keeping the world safe, it was about making profits for the defense contractors.  Our shiny future was being tarnished, and Annette was no longer on the silver screen!

The war finally ended, but the country still continued down the wrong path.  Our small towns and small businesses were being eradicated by corporations that put profit over people.  Inflation destroyed any chance of living with our paltry incomes, and we were urged to "charge it" in order to afford some overpriced "must have" item.  Jobs were dwindling, and gas prices skyrocketed.  We became a nation of "yes-men" who had lost the independent spirit of our youth.

Fast forward to today, where we find a country that's more divided than we were during the Civil war.  We have "hate radio" shows, hateful blogs, and websites.  Our news media has been replaced by propaganda sites, that many people here take as gospel.  Our savings, and futures have been decimated by good old corporate greed, and the America of our youth is now only relived by viewing photos posted on the Internet.

Just thinking of the name  "Annette" brought  a smile and a flood of pleasant memories back each time it crossed my mind.  Our youth and innocence are now gone forever, and sadly, now so is Annette herself.  May she rest in peace.

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