Yesterday’s bike ride took me down Mack Avenue, past the Dodge dealership. Hey, gang! The 2009 Challengers are here. Try to contain your excitement:
My taste is famously out of step with the mainstream, so we’ll see whether it moves metal, as they say in Detroit. Fun fact: Guess how much those fancy wheels and low-profile tires add to the bottom line. Any brave souls? No? OK, I’ll tell you: $4,000. My first car didn’t cost much more than that.
In my entire stupid life, I have never been impressed by the tires and wheels of another’s car, although admittedly, I’m not in the target demographic. We caught most of “Tales of the Rat Fink” on Sundance the other evening, a fun documentary about Ed Roth, the original car customizer. I was interested in it mostly as a doc that breaks all the way free of the Ken Burns Bigfoot style — the story is moved along by several talking cars, their words indicated by flashing headlights, and no, I’m not kidding — but it left me thinking about Detroit, too.
The auto industry and Big Daddy Roth were yin and yang to one another, especially as Roth grew older and crazier in his designs. Roth imagined a world where everyone’s car would be unique in the truest sense of the word, thanks to customizing and easily moldable fiberglas. In this sense he was like a couture fashion designer, who imagines the entire world wants to express itself through clothing, when in truth most people just want their bodies appropriately shielded from eyes and weather. But the extremes feed the middle, and when it works we live in a world where a car is more than a rolling transpo-box and a jacket is a statement. My favorite part of “Tales of the Rat Fink” was the end, where the filmmakers draw literal lines between Roth’s innovations and things we take for granted today. (Did you know Roth was the first to paint designs on plain T-shirts? Now you do.)
I still think wheels like that are a waste of $4,000, however.
Quick bloggage, as I’ve got a full plate today:
Kwame Kilpatrick left office and the official mayoral residence today. Detroit is one of only a handful of cities to have a designated mayoral mansion, and today Freep.com ran a photo gallery of the Manoogian Mansion through the years. This was my favorite; how often do you see a one-lane bowling alley? Even Daniel Plainview had three or four.
You’ve all seen the Sarah Palin e-mail hack by now, no doubt. The most important takeaway lesson? If you’re running for vice-president, the whole world will know the answer to all your security questions. So tie up that loose end beforehand, ‘kthanksbai.
Sentences that do not inspire confidence: The financial crisis that began 13 months ago entered a new, far more serious phase as hopes that the damage could be contained have evaporated. Thanks, Wall Street Journal! Suggestion for comments discussion: In a collapsed world economy based on barter, what do you have to trade? I’m figuring a 10-second peek at my tits in a nice bra ought to be worth a few slices of bread to someone, but maybe not. What’ve you got?