Buried Belvedere

It looks like the big unveiling of the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere time capsule in Tulsa went awry today because of an accumulated 50 years of water damage. I’ll try to avoid making some obvious jokes at the expense of Tulsa, but when confronted with a quote like “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Miss Belvedere” from an event organizer you just gotta kick out some of that denial. I wonder if anyone back in 1957 thought that those hopes and dreams of the future would amount to nothing more than a pile of toxic mud and rust.

After looking at some photos of the burial site in front of the Tulsa courthouse, I wonder if the sprinkler system for that lawn was particularly zealous? Near home, there’s some sprinklers that run so often that the adjoining sidewalk never gets dry, even in summer.

Biometric uselessness and security theater

Lorna of Lornamatic attempted to purchase a new BMW and encountered a Catch-22 of identity uselessness and privacy holes. She was requested to submit a thumbprint along with copies of her personal data, but none of it is checked for validity – just thrown into a box apparently. She canceled the deal and walked away, but wasn’t able to have her personal data returned (even though no valid contract was signed).

See also: security theater

Cars In Barns

One of those days, they’re going to fix them up. No, really.


This Challenger R/T has been sitting in this same spot for 12 years or more. The owner will not sell and says he will fix it up someday. This should be our state’s saying. Don’t know much about the car except it is going to waste and it is a shame.

Sometimes there’s more to the backstory


Here is a 70 4-speed Roadrunner found dying on a farm in Concord, NC. car was last running in 1989. Owner says it belonged to his son that was in the Air Force that was killed in a freak auto accident in 1990. Engine had locked up. Car has major rust inside floors and trunk. Quarters are shot, battery has leaked acid and completely rotted the inner fender. Doors are the only thing worth something because they are not rotted. Not for sale. Just a memorial soon to go back to the soil it came from. It was a B5 Blue with blue interior.

Things I Like – August 2006 “New Blog” edition

1. John Fitch. What do you do after you’ve been a P-51 fighter pilot, competed and won the Mille Miglia, and invented the “yellow barrel” crash drums you see on freeway interchanges. Go for a class speed record at Bonneville of course. Who cares if you’re 89 and the car is a 51 year-old Mercedes?


Somewhere out there Burt Munro is grinning.

2. The Antonov An-2. The world’s largest biplane. It’s kinda homely looking, but it’s as indestructible as a DC-3. I especially like this section from the pilot’s handbook:

“If the engine quits in instrument conditions (blind flying when you can’t see the ground) or at night, the pilot should pull the control column full aft (it won’t stall) and keep the wings level. The leading-edge slats will snap out at about 40 mph (64 km/h), and when the airplane slows to a forward speed of about 25 mph [40 km/h], the airplane will sink at about a parachute descent rate until the aircraft hits the ground.”


Additionally, that slow stall speed means that if you’re flying into a 35 mph headwind, you can travel backwards at 5 mph while under full control.

3. The 77 Water Street Biplane. A full-sized replica Sopwith Camel has been sitting on top of the building since 1969 “solely for the delight of denizens of neighboring skyscrapers.” Snoopy salutes you.


4. Star Trek Inspirational posters. Obvious fun, but I laughed out loud.


5. The “Nukeables” vending machine at the Nevada Test Site. On the tour of the test site, I couldn’t help noticing the utter lack of personality anywhere on the site. Every science lab in the world has cartoons pasted on the windows, or something like the mysterious red “The End Is Near” button on the Mt. Wilson telescope. Something that indicates that there are working people there – no matter how slightly twisted their sense of humor is. There wasn’t much of anything like that at the NTS, except for this terrific vending machine in the cafeteria.


Cameras were banned on the tour so I wasn’t able to get a picture of it, but these folks were able to.

The South African Riviera

Audi has some fun with a speed camera in South Africa, but what I zeroed in on is that fantastic 1972 Buick Riviera boattail merrily cruising along. I used to own a 1972 Riviera years ago and I’m pretty sure that South African one is a 1972 since there’s no vents on the trunk lid. Nice to see one so far from home in such great condition. Can’t tell if it’s right-hand drive – it’s pretty rare if it is.


P.S. Attention Autoblog: 228K for a 369 x 417 picture is friggin’ ridiculous! Do you just not know how to optimize a jpg for the web, or do you just like wasting money on bandwidth? Even a basic Photoshop “save for web” drops it down to 32K.

Things I Like – “I Skipped December” January 2006 edition

1. Aaron Koblin’s “Flight Patterns” – alternative visualizations of US air traffic.



2. Op-Art artist Bridget Riley


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3. The iPod edition of the Yule Log



4. The second wave of retrocars, especially the concepts for the Dodge Challenger (I’ll take one in “Vanishing Point” white please) and Lamborghini Miura.



5. The Friends Of Eddie Coyle. This turned up on one of the cable networks a couple days ago and annoyingly it’s not on DVD yet. I started watching it because of Robert Mitchum, who’s terrific in it, but the movie’s real star is the grimy New England industrial autumn – lots of faded overcast grey, brown, flat green, battered strip malls, faded cars from the 70s, – barely a blue sky or primary color to be found. It’s a hell of a cracking good 70s-era existential noir movie too.


What I Like (November 2005)

1. The Fall on “Later with Jools Holland.” I kinda liked Holland way back when he was the snarky new wave guy that would randomly show up on MTV’s old “IRS’ The Cutting Edge,” but now he an old smug self-importance Paul Shaffer-type who insists upon inserting his boogie woogie piano into every act on his show. M.E.S. would just murder the guy and the Fall’s performance was indeed great, but my favorite part came at the beginning when all the guests perform together in an attempt to out awesome each other – only the Fall jump up and down like a band of sinister muppets.


2. Mapping Toponymy. Where regional differences in name for topographical features like “hollows,” “coves,” “-burg,” etc. are actually mapped out.


3. The AMT Piranha. As seen in the Man From U.N.C.L.E. The closest thing there was to a Hot Wheels car you could actually drive.


4. Big Bugs. Just what the web site says – giant insectoid sculptures.


5. Wrong Is Right. You want to give this movie more credit than it probably deserves… Middle Eastern shenanigans, dictators who suddenly can’t get the CIA to return their phone calls, suicide bombers, a president who becomes emboldened after being perceived as a wimp, a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and a media who’s only interested in which side will give them the best ratings. Add in the usual supporting cast of 80s-era parody actors (Leslie Nielsen, Dean Stockwell, Henry Silva) and it should add up to a forgotten movie twenty years ahead of it’s time and at least a short list candidate for a “in the footsteps of Dr. Strangelove list.” Well, kinda sorta. After recently watching it for the first time since it was released, it doesn’t seem quite as sharp as I remember it being but dorky comedies like this and Deal Of The Century are a damn sight better compared with the shrill pound-you-over-the-head tone of current war satires like Lord Of War.

Still, bonus points for the sight gag of Sean Connery throwing his hairpiece out of a helicopter at the end. Double extra bonus for casting a young Jennifer Jason Leigh as a child who poisons her parents for a reality show.



9 Recent Obituaries You May Have Missed

  1. William Donaldson a.k.a. Henry Root: His obit in the Telegraph might be one of the best things I’ve read all year.
  2. Lesley Smith: One half of the Lesney partnership that produced Matchbox Cars, the classy die cast cars which were vastly superior to the garish Hot Wheels (at least until 1997 when Matchbox was purchased by Mattel).
  3. The voices of Pooh and Piglet may have died on the same day, but two stars of the terrific cult television show U.F.O. died within a day of each other. Ed Bishop’s obit is terrific.
  4. Simon Waronker: Liberty Records founder, discoverer of Julie London, and the namesake of Simon in Alvin and The Chipmunks.
  5. Dorothy Chase: Co-founder of the Claremont Folk Music Center in Claremont, CA. Possibly even more influential to me than any other music shop in getting me to try out oddball instruments.
  6. Doran William Cannon: Noteworthy for two things – the screenplays for two of the most bizarre movies to come out of a major studio: Skidoo and Brewster McCloud.
  7. James Stockdale: Possibly best known as Ross Perot’s 1992 running-mate, Stockdale’s son has been heavily involved with my alma mater Webb School and on occasion the Vice Admiral would come by to visit and speak at one of the graduation ceremonies.
  8. Higley’s Coffee Shop in La Cañada, California. I’ve been going to Higley’s for 11 years now and I’m sad to see it go.
  9. The Ford Thunderbird: the last date of production was July 1. Thunderbirds had been built at the Wixom plant since 1958.