Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

Car Struck

August 20, 2013

Monday August 19th, 2013 – McHenry, IL

   If I have ever hit it big financially for any reason, the one and only vice that frightens me even a little is old cars. I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life, nor have I ever experimented with illegal drugs. Ever. People doubt me when I say that, but it’s true. I never took even one puff of a joint or did one line of cocaine. For whatever reason, those things never held any allure for me.

   Old cars on the other hand have owned my heart since childhood. My grandpa and I used to go on long walks when I was a kid, and he’d show me how to identify cars. Buick had the portholes, Pontiac had the Indian, a Lincoln Continental had the suicide doors, and the list went on and on.

   I was captivated by the cars of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and I still am. They’re rolling works of art, even though most of the cars of today are actually much better products. I don’t care. I’d still love to have at least a couple of the old ones to enjoy. I don’t need a fleet, a few will do nicely.

   My friend Bill Mihalic in Detroit invited me to the big Woodward Dream Cruise last weekend, and I really wanted to go. I’ve heard about it for years, but I had to take comedy work to pay the bills and had to back out at the last minute. One of these years I’m going to get the chance to go.

   There’s just something about an old car show that puts me in a good mood. I love to look at all that hard work and pride of ownership in one place, and most of the owners are more than happy to share info about their babies. I’m genuinely interested in hearing it, so it works out splendidly.

   Today I happened to be out and about and found a big car show in McHenry, IL that’s held on Monday nights apparently. I had no idea it existed, but when I drove by I had to stop. It was free, and there were about 150-200 cars – mostly of that ‘50s to ‘70s vintage that I have loved so long.

   I was in my own personal heaven as I strolled through the aisles of gorgeous cars soaking all of them in for their intrinsic beauty. They had the standard fare of Chevelles and Thunderbirds and Chargers and the like, but there were also some more obscure entries one doesn’t see very often.

   I saw several Mercury Comets for example. When was the last time I saw ONE at a car show? They’re basically Ford Fairlanes, but it was still cool to see them. I also saw a ’65 Buick Skylark. I owned one years ago, and LOVED it. Mine had a crunched up front fender when I got it, but it was still drivable and had a lot of power. I’d barely touch the accelerator and it would really fly.

   I’m also a big sucker for Cadillacs. I’ve always loved them and always will. I think I’d qualify as an honorary soul brother, as I dearly love barbecue, soul music, Cadillacs and white women. If I had my way I’d never be without at least one Caddy in my garage, but at this point I’m just one small step from living in a garage myself. If and when a windfall comes, so will the vintage tin.

   Jay Leno really lived out the car fantasy, but I don’t think I’d have to take it that far. He’s been able to afford it so it’s no big deal, but at this late stage in the game it would take a lot less for all my wildest dreams to be satiated. I’d probably turn out like Elvis and end up giving cars away.

   That would be fun, I have to admit. I’d get more of a kick out of watching the look of surprise on someone’s face than if I actually owned it myself. Still, no matter who owns them I still love to ogle the classics. I loved every minute of the car show tonight, and it was a nice little surprise treat after the disappointment of missing out on the Detroit experience. I’ll be a car fan for life.

I LOVE Cadillacs! This is my favorite year - 1966. Super sleek!

I LOVE Cadillacs! This is my favorite year – 1966. Super sleek!

Another classic - the 1965 Buick Skylark

The 1965 Buick Skylark – another classic beauty!

The 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 - I want one!

The 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 – I want one!

The Detroit Domino

July 19, 2013

Thursday July 18th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’m ashamed to admit it, but being an active card carrying member of the human race thrills me less and less by the day. It’s supposed to be my job to find the funny in this world, but with every passing day I’m feeling that desire slip away like virginity in the prison shower. Life disturbs me, and I don’t know where to start. Every direction I look there’s a fire burning out of control. Help!

   The Trayvon Martin case is polarizing the nation. I can’t turn on my TV or radio without being subjected to two alleged ‘experts’ on either side of the argument throwing vicious verbal darts at each other, and I’m completely sick of it. There’s going to be a race war sooner than later in this country, and it’s going to get uglier than it already is. The tension level is rising to a fever pitch.

   In most normal scenarios, this is where humor should ride in like the Lone Ranger and save the day. Humor by its very nature eases tension – or at least it’s supposed to. Try slipping in a joke at the water cooler at work or a party of mixed company and see how it flies. You’ll be barbecued.

   I’m not saying this is a comedic situation, but unless some tension gets released there’s trouble on the horizon. Nobody I talk to is without a strong opinion in this case, and ALL of it has to boil down to race. Try as we might, there’s still a giant gap between races and it’s not just whites and blacks. Hispanics are in it too, and we’re going to eventually clash with China sooner than later.

   And if that weren’t enough – even though for me it’s more than plenty – the city of Detroit has declared bankruptcy. It’s been coming for a while, but today was the day. I’m sure there will be a tidal wave of jokes all over the place about it, and I’m sure there will be many that are hilarious.

   I’m all for a well constructed joke, but there’s a lot deeper significance here and I’m concerned too much to laugh. Detroit was once the symbol of the American manufacturing empire, but now it’s been relegated to laughing stock status. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of our fading land.

   You can’t tell me this will be the last major American city where this will occur. Detroit started the trend of severe urban decay in the ‘60s and other cities followed. I remember Detroit as a butt of jokes as a kid along with Cleveland, aka “The mistake on the lake.” Is it funny? Not anymore.

   Sadly, I don’t see a bright future for my home town of Milwaukee either. I sure wish I did, but I don’t. They’re following the same troubling trend most Midwest rust belt cities are, and people with any financial means whatsoever are moving out in droves. The only ones who stay are poor and can’t go anywhere else. Pretty soon, the Detroit domino will start pushing over many more.

   I hate to be such a gloom slinger, but it’s just how I see it. How the hell can I be funny if these intense problems are flaming out of control? I find it hard – especially since a bad economy kills the entertainment business. If people have no money to spend, they can’t come out and see me.

   Never have I claimed to have any, all or some of the answers. Hell, I don’t even have a single one. But what I do have like everyone else is a need to earn a legitimate living. I’m not looking for handouts or special treatment, I just want to be able to practice my craft and earn my keep.

   That has always been a challenge, but now it’s getting to be downright brutal. This is not what I planned on when I started, and it’s not the same country I grew up in. Change? I didn’t want it in ’08, and I don’t want it now. I thought the America I was born into was working rather well.