Alan’s been auto editor for more than a year now, and one perk of the job is, he gets to take a car home from time to time. By “time to time,” I mean maybe twice a month, and he usually chooses Wednesdays. That’s his day to pick up Kate at her weekly jazz practice, and they like to listen to satellite radio together; the new cars all have it. The models the companies send to the automotive press tend to have, as we like to say, “alllll the shit on it,” expensive and loaded, the kind we’d never buy. The Buick Enclave we had over the weekend cost close to what I make in a year, at least with allll the shit on it.
But it was a luxurious ride, and if nothing else, cars like this tell me what is coming in my next one, once the technology trickles down to the lower price points.
The dashboards on some of these rides are more daunting than a 747’s, with baffling switches that control things like heated steering wheels and other crap. But we’ve become fond of a couple of doo-dads, specifically the backup camera and the blind-spot indicator.
You don’t have those on your car? The former not only shows you what’s behind you, but also draws a little lane with green/yellow/red zones — sometimes with audio cues when you get too close to cars and walls and pedestrians. And the blind-spot indicator is pure genius, a yellow lamp that lights in your outside rear-view mirror when you’re not in a safe lane-changing zone.
The jury is out on a Cadillac option Alan sampled a while back — a rumble thing that shakes under your ass when you drift from your lane. He thought it was silly, but I pointed out that on my Lansing commutes, it’s not unusual for — I swear — half the passing cars to be piloted by someone who is staring at a phone. I’ve seen so many motorists drifting out of their lanes at 80 miles per hour that I’d be in favor of making the rumble-ass feature standard equipment on everything from zillion-dollar Cadillacs down to Kia subcompacts.
Actually, it would be nice to get an ass-rumble whenever we drift astray, don’t you think? I’ll let you think on that for a while.
“Mad Men” starts Sunday with some new evidence on how far we’ve fallen since the 1960s:
We see Don reading “The Inferno” from Dante while he and Megan lie on the beach in Hawaii. As the camera lingers on Megan’s bikini bottom, Jon Hamm’s voice over thoughtfully recites, “I went astray from the straight road (pause) and woke to find myself alone (pause) in a dark wood.”
When was the last time you saw anyone reading Dante on a beach? I ask you.
Happy Wednesday, all.