The prom report.

Not a great bunch of pix this year, and I’m not sure why. I wasn’t really drunk, and I think I had it on the point-and-shoot, go-ahead-and-decide-the-exposure camera setting, but nothing really stuck out on the roll. But hey, let’s jump in.

I think part of the weirdness of the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview, i.e., the Car Prom, is the lighting. The wattage at Cobo is aimed and amped to set the shiny sheet metal off at its most flattering; that isn’t necessarily the best for human flesh, but there you are. Anyway, here are some tarts on the People Mover, en route:


We always go on the People Mover. The parking is easier at Alan’s office, and then there’s a pre-game at the next-door hotel bar, to which all the people who put in the inhuman hours early in the week get to come, and then it’s a block to the PM, which drops you off right in Cobo Center. (The fur came from a Grosse Pointe estate sale, and the lining is rotten silk. Fortunately, I have the self-esteem to hand it over to a coat-check staffer without shame.) The other two nice ladies are Alan’s colleagues. We’d had a couple at this point.

But then there we were, under the Fellini lighting. For some reason I was entranced by this lady’s chinchilla stole:


That’s in the Jaguar display. Pronounced British-style: Jag-you-are.

It was hard to spot a simple theme this year. We’re back! was the message of the last couple of years, since the bailout. Also, Electric cars! There were plenty of them — stay tuned — but the big stories were the new F-150 and, and… I’m drawing a blank. The Corvette was North American Car of the Year, and we spent some time gawking. You know I’m pretty practical, but even this out-of-focus shot gives you a sense of the ground clearance on this ‘vette; how do you drive one without freaking the hell out about every bump and change in pavement smoothness?


There were many tail ends to be seen throughout the night; here are two:


Don’t judge. Winters here are long, and subcutaneous fat is frequently your best friend.

Speaking of back ends, women here are not afraid to climb up on running boards and check out the bed liner while wearing evening gowns:


This may be just me, but I love these new-style headlights with all the LED action:


They’re a little off-putting to come upon as a driver of, say, a 10-year-old Volkswagen coming toward you, but they are bright as all get-out, and very stylish, no?

Here’s Alan, regarding a Chrysler:


It is, what’s the word I’m looking for? Blue.

Speaking of blue, I was entranced by the reflections on everything. That is my blue dress, and that is my necklace, but that is not the Jessica Rabbit bustline suggested; it’s just some weird distortion.


Finally, I always like to eavesdrop on the car-guy chatter. Two stopped behind me while I was examining this Honda concept; I believe the quote was, “Speaking of things that will never be built…” And then they moved on. Honestly, I can’t argue. Some concepts are just there to be looked at and become part of the creative mix, like early drafts or outtakes:


After two hours or so, my feet were screaming so loud they could be heard above the crowd noise, so we booked for a restaurant with some amusing cheap house wines. But before we go, another plastic flute of champagne? It’s for charity:


Until next year, I remain your correspondent, The Crone in the Tatty Fur.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life |

38 responses to “The prom report.”

  1. Dexter said on January 20, 2014 at 4:45 am

    “The Crone in the Tatty Fur”. Perfect. I would think it would be another Elmore Leonard bestseller…if only…
    Thanks for the report. We all love admiring the new cars and trucks and the concepts. And so, we dream:

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  2. alex said on January 20, 2014 at 7:45 am

    It’s got the same rhythm as “The Man with the Three-Way Hips,” a ditty from the ‘eighties.

    Osteo-Bi-Flex always brings to mind “Radio Gaga.”

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 20, 2014 at 8:11 am

    That Corvette couldn’t be driven in Newark, Ohio. Not until we fill a few thousand six inch deep potholes.

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  4. Pam (the sister) said on January 20, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I’ve been trying to get you to take Nanna’s fur stole for years, and yet, you buy a tatty one at an estate sale? Whaaat? You could look just as tatty in hers. I guess I’ll just give it to the lady who makes doggie fur coats out of old furs (a little redundant, that). I’ve never understood dog clothes. Dog life vests, yes, but coats? they already have one built in.

    I loved the chinchilla shoulder wrap. Just something nice to keep your upper arms and shoulders warm. But I would never buy one.

    That Honda concept car is nice, so sleek! Why would it never be made?, it’s attractive enough. The news said that there would be a lot of “Smart” cars at the show that drive themselves. They said the big auto makers are trying to have a sellable car by 2020. I think that might be a little optimistic, but who knows. We just read a story about a BMW with parking assist that run up and over the car in front of it. A few bugs to work out there.

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  5. brian stouder said on January 20, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Marvelous photos, and nice ‘tattys’, too!

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  6. nancy said on January 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Another view of the Honda. Most people would say it won’t be made because of the expense involved. Note the elaborate panels and, again, the ground clearance. It’s like on Project Runway, and the challenge is to make a dress at X price point. You have to consider fabric, number of seams and labor involved.

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  7. brian stouder said on January 20, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Well, if it was 1955, Chrysler would make that thing!

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  8. Basset said on January 20, 2014 at 9:21 am

    What Brian said.

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  9. ROGirl said on January 20, 2014 at 9:29 am

    The ‘vette is the summer car, for tooling around in good weather, not in pothole and road salt season. It sits in the garage this time of year.

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    • nancy said on January 20, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Because everybody knows there has never been a pothole spotted in Michigan during the summer, right?

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  10. Bruce Fields said on January 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Our old apartment complex had a speed bump at the exit, and a neighbor with a low-clearance sports car. The exit showed the signs of his escalating conflict with the management: first the tire tracks on the grass, then the cinderblocks….

    (My sympathies were with the driver: even “normal” cars often bottomed out there. The nearby city street had bumps that were done right: wider and shallower, just enough to annoy speeders.)

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  11. alex said on January 20, 2014 at 10:23 am

    So, am I reading too much into this? Or is the “servant” shit about MLK a dog whistle? Note that our governor is a sworn teabagger:

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  12. Deborah said on January 20, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Nancy, you look like you’re having a great time in the first picture. We women, our feet let us know when it’s time to go home. So unfair.

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  13. brian stouder said on January 20, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Alex – agreed about the odd Pence statement. It seems to be buzzing; he starts out with an akward and narrowing characterization – “Dr. King’s efforts to peacefully advocate for justice for African-Americans changed the course of American history and inspire us still today”. and then zags back with “Dr. King’s commitment to all mankind stands as a wonderful example of how every Hoosier should serve their community.”

    At the least, if this isn’t dog-whistle stuff, he should have polished that up a little more, and kept the theme consistently universal….

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  14. Scout said on January 20, 2014 at 11:41 am

    The Crone in the Tatty Fur is a winner. Love it.

    I think the Honda is pretty cool, too. Glad to hear that the electric car was a big thing, however until they figure out how to get further than 100 miles per charge I’ll never buy one. Til then, I’m happy with my hybrid.

    Bruce Fields, you made me lol.

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  15. Julie Robinson said on January 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Pence’s motives are always to be scrutinized.

    This crone’s creaky knees twinge at the very thought of climbing in and out of the Honda, and I wonder about the visibility out the back. Still, I know a few guys who would like it.

    And speaking of visibility, cars who can drive themselves are a long way off, at least if judged by our new Honda. It has one of those rear-view cameras, but it doesn’t function well in the following situations: the dark or even gray days, rain, snow, or any slop that obscures the lens. In other words, the times when you could really use its help.

    We didn’t choose it for that feature but I have zero confidence in it. Other than that it gets me where I want to go safely with decent mileage, and that’s all I really care about.

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  16. brian stouder said on January 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    So I was admiring the photos again (#1 is marvelous), and the Jaguar photo got me laughing out loud.

    I studied the woman with the interesting outfit that Nancy points to, and then the car…and then eventually I saw the little guy (like Where’s Waldo) who is behind the wheel of the Jag!

    Suddenly, it looked very like the woman was there to create enough of a diversion so that the guy could climb into the driver’s seat!

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  17. MichaelG said on January 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I agree that that Honda will never be produced in its present form for the reasons you stated. Also, think of the nightmare costs for even a simple small rear ender. Carmakers often throw several design ideas together in a single car. You may see several details from this car on several different Hondas in the future. Go look at some old GM “dream cars” from the late forties and early fifties. You will see how this works. Here’s one:

    You can see all ’55 and later GM cars in the windshield, Corvette cove behind the front wheels, Caddy tail fins, several cars in the kicked up rear fender, several in the dagmars, Caddy in the tumblehome in the door and the rear fender cut out etc, etc. I’m sure there is a lot more but you can get the idea.

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  18. Jolene said on January 20, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I agree with Julie that Pence is not to be trusted, but his use of “servant leader” is justified. It’s a fairly well-established concept–to the extent that there is a Wikipedia entry describing it. Here’s the first paragraph from that entry:

    Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

    If you google “servant leader”, you’ll find links to many other discussions of the idea.

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  19. Bruce Fields said on January 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm describes one self-driving car as “surmounted by a spinning laser turret and knobbed with cameras, radar, antennas, and G.P.S. It looks a little like an ice-cream truck, lightly weaponized for inner-city work.”

    I seem to recall that one of the major engineering challenges is bringing down the cost of the astonishing array of sensors required.

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  20. Joe K said on January 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Brian the thing I noticed in the jag picture was the age difference in the lady in the fur, and the gentleman HOLDING her hand, hmm, trophy wife? Or working girl?
    Pilot Joe

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  21. LAMary said on January 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I was on the CA DMV site yesterday and I saw one of the choices for clicking was “new autonomous vehicle laws.”

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  22. BigHank53 said on January 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Google’s prototype self-driving cars have used a LIDAR system, the external part of which is that spinning turret. That single sensor system alone costs about $250,000.

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  23. brian stouder said on January 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    And being a Googlemobile, every damned time you try to go to the store (or worse, the mall) it will try and redirect you to one of their sponsors….and I bet it will have up-front reserved parking, as long as you then walk through the correct door

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  24. Dexter said on January 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Oh, please tell me the man clasping hands with chinchilla lady is not that damn curmudgeon Frank Beckmann, because it sure looks like him.

    I was distracted somewhat last night while watching the latter football game by the Nightline (I think) show which featured that horrible truck-car crash in California that resulted in a BMW automobile hanging precipitously over a deep gorge. The car was a twisted hunk of metal and glass which had formed a pocket enabling a mother and two young daughters to live. All was nearly lost when , as angels, some US Navy SEABEES jumped in to help the firemen and cops. They were transporting the damndest forklift I have even seen.
    The segment nearly had me choked up as I watched that forklift extend way out and support that cursed car so the saw-men could extricate the family. All were saved. I operated all sizes of forklifts for a living for the last twenty years of my working career and the closest thing we ever did was save a man’s hand. He had gotten it pinched hard in a machine . One of my co-workers chained the top of the machine and held it taut while the engineers and electricians and machine repair guys feverishly worked to delicately reverse the machine. My job was to talk softly to the dude and rhythmically pat his shoulder, like a dental assistant will do to calm and reassure a patient that is getting drilled and filled. He escaped with a mangled and broken hand, but in time he regained use of the hand.

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  25. Dexter said on January 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    bassett: fish tales

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  26. Minnie said on January 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    It’s sweet of the man in the striped suit to bring his daughter to the car show.

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  27. LAMary said on January 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    I don’t think the chinchilla lady is a young as you think. I’m calling it at about 45. Also, doesn’t the guy in the Jag look like he has a tiny head in relation to the steering wheel? Is he in the back seat maybe?

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  28. brian stouder said on January 20, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Mary – he’s a gas, isn’t he!

    And indeed, I’m probably stepping on your joke – but I don’t think that car has a backseat!

    Agreed about Chinchilla lady; she’s beautiful, and she’s no kiddo. Her face is clue one, and her elbows are clues two and three.

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  29. LAMary said on January 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Yes, the elbows were my first clue. Years of life drawing classes have made me an observer of elbows or all things.

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  30. Minnie said on January 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Very observant. I enlarged the photo, and the elbows do tell a tale.

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  31. Deborah said on January 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I’m keeping my elbows covered around you guys.

    Back from a gorgeous day in Abiquiu, 54 degrees, clear air, the mountains with snow on top looked terrific. We gathered a bunch more wood to bring back to Santa Fe for the fireplace. We have a bunch of dead piñon trees on our land, from the bark beetle infestation (and I mean a bunch, we lost every single piñon on our 100 acres, only junipers left). Slowly we are chopping them up, Piñon makes the best smelling fires.

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  32. Sherri said on January 20, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    For the football fans among us, post hoc ergo propter hoc and all that, but it’s obvious: if you want your team to go to the Super Bowl next year, better get to work on legalizing marijuana!

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  33. Kirk said on January 20, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Lay in even more pizzas.

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  34. Dexter said on January 20, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Christie is waiting for the blazers.
    “When the amount of marijuana possessed is fifty grams or less, New Jersey classifies that possession as a “disorderly persons offense.” The general penalty in New Jersey for conviction of a disorderly persons offense can be six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00… [ New Jersey defines marijuana to be a controlled dangerous substance…”]

    So blaze up, Seahawks and Broncos. If you dare mess with da man. Ha.

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  35. Kirk said on January 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    It’s OK as long as you buy your New Jersey reefer from a lobbyist he’s close with.

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  36. basset said on January 20, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Dexter@25, that’s quite a fish… surprised it would bite in a Michigan winter, they go dormant when the water gets cold and sometimes will stack up on top of each other around a bridge piling or other shelter. World record flathead right now is 123 lb as far as I can find out with a quick google.

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  37. Minnie said on January 21, 2014 at 8:19 am

    After our elbow discussion I took a look at mine in the mirror. Elbow-length and 3/4 sleeves are my friends, despite disdain of them by Tom and Lorenzo’s readership.

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