Diatribe

The good old days carried a lot of risk

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour  

Most everyone over a certain age loves to reflect on how great the good old days were. There were no terrorists, no economic crises and our eventual demise wouldn't take place for decades, which back then, taking into account inflation, was the equivalent of centuries and centuries of the good life. The only thing we had to fear (besides fear itself) was the Red Menace and who cared if the Russkies flew over the North Pole and dropped an atomic bomb?

I always wanted a convertibe — But why?

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour   

When I was growing up and began thinking of what kind of car I’d like to have the number one possibility always seemed to be a convertible. After all, isn’t a convertible the height of coolness? You have a convertible and you’ll have all the hot babes and “Vehicle Vixens” in town, won’t you? Yeah, "there’s be nothing cooler" than driving around town with the top down and nice breezes running through your hair.

Where are you hiding the gearshift?

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour  

I know what you’re thinking; you’re reading the headline and wondering what I’ve been smoking to cause me to write something like that? Of course the gearshift lever is either on the steering column or on the floor (or in recent times, some are on the dashboard).

Just what is shipping and handling?

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour    
If you look at any Monroney label (the official name of the price sheet that’s taped to the window of brand new vehicles) everything seems above board. There’s the usual listing of where the car is manufactured, what the U.S. content is, what major safety, convenience and other amenities are standard, the Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) of the vehicle and then the options and/or packages are listed under the “Options” section and then there’s a total underneath.

Be a scofflaw and it’s off to jail…with no chance of parole

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour           

A lot of things make me sick — rancid chili, memories of my ex-wife, and overt breakers of traffic laws. I’m equally sick of the excuse that “we don’t have enough jail space to house lawbreakers.” Apparently this philosophy is allowed to prevail because it’s alleged we don’t have enough money to build jails. No? But we do have enough money to fund bridges that go nowhere, foreign aid to those we owe trillions to and payoffs to third-world dictators for overfly and drive-through rites of their various countries.

Let me introduce you to my car

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour     

When I was growing up in Indiana there was only so many times you could tip over a cow, make out at Bartz’s Woods or eat a “Pig’s Dinner” at Brownie’s Drive-In. So creative juices flowed, and out of this mind-searching came a trend of naming one’s car.
 
Not just to talk about, but to actually paint a name on it. After all they painted names on the side of military airplanes. I had a ’55 Ford in high school and at the same time the Everly Brothers had a hit song entitled “Problems.”

Turn on your lights, dummy!

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE           
By Al Vinikour       
 
As most of you know one of my biggest gripes in life are those drivers who do not use turn signals. If I had my way about it anybody who does not use turn signals should be sent to Chernobyl to enjoy the facility’s famous warm baths and be waited on hand and foot – which if legend has it will be the last identifiable body parts left after a two-lap swim of its Olympic-sized pools.

Hp u rt n hl

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour    
 
There’s been talk recently about banning cell phone use in any moving vehicle. This would kill (pardon the pun) two birds with one stone; people wouldn’t be able to talk on the telephone while trying to drive and it would also prevent text-messaging — a plague worse than the great Crablouse Catastrophe of 1839. I personally don’t understand the necessity and the nuances of texting.

Stop lights…the new waiting rooms

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIARIBE
By Al Vinikour    

Fewer environments are more sterile, depressing and quiet than the waiting room at a doctor’s office. No matter how nicely its furnished you’re still going to find a passel of long-expired magazines (if ever you want to see a copy of Colliers, Saturday Evening Post and Look Magazine check out the racks, they’re probably there); a sliding glass panel where you can see at least three to four people working full-time on billing and people speaking in hushed tones, like they’re afraid to wake the dead (pardon the pun).

My, what a big engine you have

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour  


As mentioned many times, I grew up during the beginning of the muscle car era. It’s really subjective as to when this so-called halcyon time began. Some attribute it to the year that Chevrolet sold its first V8 model in 1955 that was 265 cubic inches. Ford already had an overhead-valve V8 in 1954 that was 239 cubic inches. (Chrysler was on the periphery during the initial years but for simplicity’s sake I’ll mostly keep this to the 100 Year’s War between Ford and Chevy.)