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(Note: having just reread this before posting - for once - I admit that this is one of the more spectacularly incoherent bleats of 05. Clip and save!)

My wife needs a new car, since the old one is shedding parts. Most of the sensors have gone out – she has to use the Force to figure out how much gas she has, and the last time she had her oil changed the technician informed her that she had chosen an excellent time to replentish her supply, seeing as she had no oil. When you turn the wheels it screeches like Fran Drescher being fed into a wood chipper, and the brakes make sounds that make dogs fall over and bleed from the ears. It’s a 1996 Cirrus. It’s tired. If you take your hands off the wheel it automatically points itself to the nearest glue factory.

Do! Not! Write! With! Advice! Please. I thank you, but these decisions are personal – and besides, I sit next to the guy who edits the auto page, and he has an extraordinary amount of knowledge about cars to boot. Or to trunk, as they say in England. (Ha! I kill myself sometimes.) Today we went through many web pages looking at many cars, and it was depressing; most mid-priced sedans were designed by graduates of the International Institute of Boring Your Ass Off, and have the same dull front and the same dull back and the same dull middle. I repeat my earlier contention: bring back a car that would have looked at home in 1957 and they would sell a kajillion units. Something that leaned into the wind, had boobie headlights and forty-nine tons of chrome, two colors, poke-your-eye-out fins and a hood ornament in the shape of a rocket or a nuclear weapon. But no: we get the same old same old, over and over.

Still, I had a few leads. So after I picked Gnat up from school I drove to a lot off Penn – a used car lot, as it turned out. I trolled through the lot, stopped when I saw something I liked, jumped out to check the sticker – GAH! SALESMAN! Even in Doom you can hear them materialize behind you. If I’d had a can of Man-B-Gon I would have sprayed him head to toe: go away, please, leave me alone. But there he was: what are you looking for?

A car. Thank you, I don’t to waste your time, so –

What’s your price range?

Oh, I don’t know, twelve to twenty (I’ve blown it! He’s going to show me a car for 21K I cannot refuse! Then come the extras! The service contract! The delivery fees, the taxes, license and prep fees! I might as well give him $26K right now and admit defeat.)

We got a Montero in yesterday for seven.

Seven? Really? Yesterday? Why, I’m just in time – NO! NO! It’s for my wife. She doesn’t like Monteros.

What does she like?

Something red.

Hmm. Let me see –

No, really, that’s okay. I’m just passing through. Not in the market, really. I lied. She can’t drive. We’re divorced. And I made her up. Thank you, good bye. Oh look! I'm late for an appendictomy. Gotta run -

I don’t like buying cars. Hate it. The last time I bought a car the salesperson implored me to answer the customer survey questions with nothing but “excellent,” or they would get in trouble with Honda. Ninjas would show up and rip out their hearts, apparently.

“I don’t want Mommy to get a new car,” said Gnat as we drove out of the lot. Predicatable; kids never want anything to change, except for the quantity of their toys. “I like her car.”

“But it’s falling apart.”

“No it isn’t. I don’t see any pieces on the ground.”

“It’s falling apart inside. Anyway, she could get a red car.”

“How about a pink one? That would be groovy.”

“That would be what?”


Good Lord. Did parents in 1955 hear their kids say “that would be copacetic”? No. But boomer lingo lingers on, unkillable, seeping out in the dialogue of Disney channel shows in 2005. It makes you wonder if parents in 2045 will hear their child pronounce those new hovercars the shinizzle. Probably not. Ever since the boomers, it’s been nothing but fragmented demographic slices. Generations X and Y and Z, each with their own sliver of culture to define their childhood and adolescences. They seem to be better equipped to enter adulthood and claim their own place in the culture, too – can’t possibly imagine they’ll fetishize the music of their youth the way the boomers do. They have no Rolling Stones, no Beatles – and good for them. Their generations will be defined – if they’re lucky – by brief widespread shared memes, not self-important products of lightweight pop culture. What counts, after all, is knowing something that all your peers know about. Once upon a time it was the delicious theory that Paul was dead – listen to the album backwards, you’ll hear the clues! Now the common bond is something like “All Your Base Belong to Us,” which serves the same purpose. Something everyone knew at a certain time for a certain reason.

Now one of the the common bonds is retro-repurposing of post-boomer culture, like Adult Swim, enjoyed without any real first-hand knowledge of the source material. (See also, the Institute of Official Cheer.) They’re not slaves to the past, because unlike the boomers, the past tagged along every day while they grew up. It’s hard to get nostalgic about something that’s been on TV every day you can remember. They’re also spared the weighty baggage the boomers lug around, the feeling that their generation had some special historical mission to confront the Man, sit him down, and make him Dig Your Scene. Or at least the need to understand its intrinsic diggability. But is such a thing possible? Can the squares, the L-7s, the Herberts, be made to dig a scene that might well blow their mind? And if they show they can handle a scene, does this necessarily mean they can comprehend a happening? Why, it’s like trying to teach a stranger about rock and roll, as the Turtles said. A noble endeavor, yea, but what if the breach is unbridgeable? What then, I ask you? I ask you?

How did I get off on that? Oh, I don’t know. Something about growing up in the shadow of the 60s generation makes you a banky crastard when their spoor shows up clinging to your kid’s soles. Groovy. Criminey.

This isn’t to say that the overculture of the 60s was superior to the counterculture – no. I’m hard-pressed to find much from that decade I don’t want to hold at arm’s length with asbestos-coated tongs, but again: that’s just me. I don’t know what was worse – a dreary sludgy dope-opus like “In a Gadda Da Vida” or the sexist slime-sacks on parade in “Ocean’s 11.” Hippie décor or the faux-fancy gimcrack shite of a ’65 Vegas hotel room. Joan Baez or Angie Dickinson.

Uh - No, wait. Hmm. Well, there are advantages here and there. There's good and bad in every era. The sixties had to happen - but I wish it had been done by a different cast of characters. A more sober and humble crew, if you will.

Not that I don't enjoy the fruits of that decade; I do. And I take for granted its achievements. Of course I'm ungrateful! It's one of the things I learned growing up in the wake of the boomers. Cat's in the cradle, man. Didn't you hear that song? It's not groovy, no - but it's heavy.

Oh, MY GOD, I’m babbling. I’ve been a griping mood all day, because it’s cold. It’s cold and cloudy. It’s cold and cloudy and windy and it feels like early April again. These things weigh on a man. Our allotment of Mays is finite, after all. Seven bad ones in a row makes you . . . testy.

Ah: as if it can read my mind, the iPod shuffle just administered 20 ccs of Faure. Very nice.

Upshot: didn’t buy a car. Who cares? They'll be there tomorrow, which is keen. Gear. Fab, even. I don't want it to be Deece or Bitchin'. I would be happy if it's Aces. Ecstatic if it's Super. More so if it's copacetic.