Archives for posts with tag: automobiles

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EX-CAR (Excerpt)

Story by J. Robert Lennon

We got rid of our old car and immediately regretted our decision. It wasn’t that our new car was unsatisfactory; in fact it ran more smoothly and reliably than the old one ever had, even when it was new. But the old car had acquired a “personality” assembled from memories of our lives during the time we owned it, and we found that we missed it deeply…

A few months after selling the car, we saw it in the parking lot of a restaurant in a nearby town. Our initial reaction was to deny that it was our old car, as the restaurant was of a decidedly inferior quality and, obviously, a place our car would never go. But this car was dented in the same place as our ex-car, and two of the six letters of its chrome nameplate were broken off as they had been on ours, and so there could be no doubt.

 …we had to go into the restaurant and ask the new owner if we could buy it back. He thought it over while he chewed on a fish stick, then told us we could have it back for twice the price he bought it for.

 We gave the offer serious consideration, but ultimately decided to reject it. On the way across the parking lot I opened up the hatchback of our ex-car and stole the jack. I don’t know why I did this; it certainly wasn’t in the best interest of our ex-car; but I still have the jack and have not seen the old car again. 

Photo: Gordon Thomson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Ex-Car” by J. Robert Lennon is included in Pieces for the Left Hand: 100 Anecdotes by J. Robert LennonTIME OUT (London) called the collection “Unsettlingly brilliant.” Find the book at Amazon.com.

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THE LUCKY ONES
Poem by Charles Bukowski

stuck in the rain on the freeway, 6:15 p.m.,
these are the lucky ones, these are the
dutifully employed, most with their radios on as loud
as possible as they try not to think or remember.

this is our new civilization: as men
once lived in trees and caves now they live
in their automobiles and on freeways as

the local news is heard again and again while
we shift from first gear to second and back to first.

there’s a poor fellow stalled in the fast lane ahead, hood
up, he’s standing against the freeway fence
a newspaper over his head in the rain.

the other cars force their way around his car, pull out into
the next lane in front of cars determined to shut them off.

in the lane to my right a driver is being followed by a
police car with blinking red and blue lights – he surely
can’t be speeding as

suddenly the rain comes down in a giant wash and all the
cars stop and

even with the windows up I can smell somebody’s clutch
burning.

I just hope it’s not mine as

the wall of water diminishes and we go back into first
gear; we are all still
a long way from home as I memorize
the silhouette of the car in front of me and the shape of the

driver’s head or
what
I can see of it above the headrest while
his bumper sticker asks me
HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR KID TODAY?

suddenly I have an urge to scream
as another wall of water comes down and the
man on the radio announces that there will be a 70 percent 
chance of showers tomorrow night

PHOTO: Bright Fizz, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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CAPTION: “We want to do the whole Jack Kerouac-‘On The Road‘ thing, only with B&B.s.”

CREDIT: New Yorker cartoon by Barbara Smaller, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at condenaststore.com.

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Photo: F. Scott Fitzgerald with wife Zelda and daughter Scottie, 1923, in the sports coupé the author purchased a few years earlier after selling his first novel, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE.

“When I was a boy, I dreamed that I sat always at the wheel of a magnificent Stutz, a Stutz as low as a snake and as red as an Indiana barn.”

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

According to an insightful 1993 article entitled “The Automobile as a Central Symbol in F. Scott Fitzgerald” by Luis Girón Echevarría:

“The cars in Fitzgerald’s life provide a rough gauge by which to measure the discrepancy between the dream and reality of his life, as well as his waning fortunes, and his journey from careless, irresponsible youth to cautious, worried middle-age…

His first car, purchased in 1920 after the publication of his best-selling first novel, This Side of Paradise, was a three-year-oíd sports coupé; during the next two decades he would own a used Rolls-Royce, an oíd Buick, [a] Stutz, a nine-year-old Packard, an oíd 1934 Ford coupé, and, finally, a second-hand 1937 Ford convertible

It was Fitzgerald’s destiny to begin life dreaming of a magnificent red Stutz Bearcat and to end up driving a second-hand Ford. But during the interval he wrote of America’s dreams and of America’s enduring love affair with the automobile.”

Read more of this fascinating article here.

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In 2011, journalist Hari Kunzru interviewed Joan Didion for a British magazine and covered many topics, including  her 1969 Corvette Stingray, made famous in photographs Julian Wasser shot for Life Magazine in 1972. Here are some excerpts. (Find more at this link.)

HK: I read an old interview with you this morning…which said that the 1969 Yellow Corvette Sting Ray Maria drives in Play It As It Lays was actually your car.

JD: It was my car.

HK: …So the Corvette was the car you were driving down the foggy road and trying to work out where the turn for your drive was, and where was just a steep cliff.

JD: Yes.

Photo: “Joan Didion and her 1969 yellow Corvette Stingray” Julian Wasser (1972), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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CAR RADIO
by Donald Revell

An in-joke and the long days faltering
at the edge of fields just visible as we
drive on, the windows shuddering in twilight,
are parts of the songs. And we are traveling
faster all the time, no way to keep
up with them. Between ourselves and the night
coming on to uneasy towns like smoke
the songs are a commitment we do not make 
that gets made for us. Our own words reshaped
into the reliable, broken speech of the next
town and all those after it. As we
drive on, we see each one of them escape
us, certain that it will reappear in the context 
of another song, the in-joke of the whole country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donald Revell, born in New York City in 1954, is a poet, essayist, translator, and professor. He has won numerous honors and awards for his work, beginning with his first book, From the Abandoned Cities, a National Poetry Series winner. Other honors include the 2004 Lenore Marshall Award, two PEN Center USA Awards in poetry, the Gertrude Stein Award, two Shestack Prizes, two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as from the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. He has taught at the Universities of Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, served as editor of Denver Quarterly from 1988–94, and has been a poetry editor of Colorado Review since 1996. (Source: Wikipedia)

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THE DRIVERS
by Len Roberts

My five-year-old son rides the twelve-volt
   yellow car into the field
of wildflowers, beeps his horn
at the cat who zigzags madly
   before him,
switches on and off the low-density
   lights, turning around
just once to see I am still
   following.
It doesn’t matter, though, he won’t
   step on the brake,
won’t swerve around the first tier’s
   slope, instead goes
over it, out into the fields
   of straight spruce, where,
as he veers in and out of the rows,
it’s clear how much he is the driver
   my father was, speeding
to eighty miles an hour at the upstate
   New York winter curves,
the madman who whirled the Golden Eagle
   truck onto Lake George
ice in early April, drove it the entire
length trying to make a perfect figure 8.
The one who never once told me to slow down,
   to go straight,
who gave me two of his last four dollars
   an hour before he died,
blowing wheels of smoke into the yellow
   kitchen air, singing
with Tommy Edwards, Please Love Me Forever
into the idling engine of the night.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Len Roberts (1947-2007) was an American poet and teacher. His awards include a National Poetry Series award (1988), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Award for poetry (1991), two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and two Fulbright Scholar awards. His many poetry collections include Black Wings (1989), The Trouble-Making Finch (1998), The Silent Singer (2001), and The Disappearing Trick (2007).

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On May 17, 2013, around the time The Great Gatsby was released, we created a post entitled “What Type of Car Did Gatsby Drive?” (reposted below).  Since that time, the post has averaged about 50 hits per day — or about 5,000 hits so far. I find this high number of hits (for us, anyway) astonishing — are that many people interested in Gatsby’s car? Or are students visiting our site for info they can use in their Great Gatsby term papers? (Then again, school just started.)

Over three months later, The Great Gatsby has come and gone from the big screens in L.A. and I didn’t find a good time to catch the film. The next best thing is the 2-disc set issued on August 27th and available on Amazon.com for $17.99.

Post from May 17, 2013: What Type of Car Did Gatsby Drive? 

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Photo: Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) rides with Jay Gatsby(Leonardo DiCaprio) in the 2013 film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby.

Here’s how Nick Carraway describes Gatsby’s car in Fitzgerald’s novel:

It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns. Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory, we started to town..”

While Nick describes Gatsby’s car as “cream colored,” other characters in the book describe it as “yellow” — which, as most of us learned in high school, symbolizes Gatsby’s pursuit of the gold, of the American Dream.

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Photo: Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston) drives with Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) in the 1974 film version of Fitzgerald‘s novel.

But what make and model of car did Gatsby drive — in the novel and the various film versions? A recent article in the New York Times by Jerry Garrett offers some interesting answers. Since the information gets a bit convoluted, I’m going to resort to bullet points — and, in movie parlance, cut to the chase.

  • 1925 novel: Fitzgerald writes, “On weekends, his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight …” According to Garrett’s New York Times article (May 10, 2013), “The Rolls most likely would have been a 1922 Silver Ghost…”
  • 1974 movie (starring Robert Redford): Redford drives a 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom  – for a story set in 1922.
  • 2013 movie (starring Leonardo DiCaprio): DiCaprio drives a 1929 Duesenberg Model J — again, for a story set in 1922.

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Photo: Cars featured in the 1949 film version of The Great Gatsbystarring Alan Ladd.

I also checked out Jerry Garrett’s blog, where he adds another interesting fact…

  • 1949 movie (starring Alan Ladd): In this film version, as in the 2013 offering, Gatsby drives a Duesenberg (though I don’t know year or model). According to vintage car expert Jerry Garrett,“The point of having Gatsby owning a Rolls-Royce in the book, and having a closet full of clothes from England, was to help sell his fantasy girl Daisy Buchanan on his lie of having gone to school at Oxford. The original Duesenberg was made in Indiana. Would Daisy, a society belle from Louisville, Kentucky, have been impressed with a Hoosier?”

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Photo: F. Scott Fitzgerald with wife Zelda and daughter Scottie, 1923, in the sports coupé the author purchased a few years earlier after selling his first novel, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE.

“When I was a boy, I dreamed that I sat always at the wheel of a magnificent Stutz, a Stutz as low as a snake and as red as an Indiana barn.”

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

According to an insightful 1993 article entitled “The Automobile as a Central Symbol in F. Scott Fitzgerald” by Luis Girón Echevarría:

“The cars in Fitzgerald’s life provide a rough gauge by which to measure the discrepancy between the dream and reality of his life, as well as his waning fortunes, and his journey from careless, irresponsible youth to cautious, worried middle-age…

His first car, purchased in 1920 after the publication of his best-selling first novel, This Side of Paradise, was a three-year-oíd sports coupé; during the next two decades he would own a used Rolls-Royce, an oíd Buick, [a] Stutz, a nine-year-old Packard, an oíd 1934 Ford coupé, and, finally, a second-hand 1937 Ford convertible

It was Fitzgerald’s destiny to begin life dreaming of a magnificent red Stutz Bearcat and to end up driving a second-hand Ford. But during the interval he wrote of America’s dreams and of America’s enduring love affair with the automobile.”

Read more of this fascinating article here.

Image

Photo: Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) rides with Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the 2013 film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby.

Here’s how Nick Carraway describes Gatsby’s car in Fitzgerald’s novel:

It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns. Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory, we started to town..”

While Nick describes Gatsby’s car as “cream colored,” other characters in the book describe it as “yellow” — which, as most of us learned in high school, symbolizes Gatsby’s pursuit of the gold, of the American Dream.

Image

Photo: Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston) drives with Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) in the 1974 film version of Fitzgerald‘s novel.

But what make and model of car did Gatsby drive — in the novel and the various film versions? A recent article in the New York Times by Jerry Garrett offers some interesting answers. Since the information gets a bit convoluted, I’m going to resort to bullet points — and, in movie parlance, cut to the chase.

  • 1925 novel: Fitzgerald writes, “On weekends, his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight …” According to Garrett’s New York Times article (May 10, 2013), “The Rolls most likely would have been a 1922 Silver Ghost…”
  • 1974 movie (starring Robert Redford): Redford drives a 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom  — for a story set in 1922.
  • 2013 movie (starring Leonardo DiCaprio): DiCaprio drives a 1929 Duesenberg Model J — again, for a story set in 1922.

1949_gatsby_film

Photo: Cars featured in the 1949 film version of The Great Gatsby starring Alan Ladd.

I also checked out Jerry Garrett’s blog, where he adds another interesting fact…

  • 1949 movie (starring Alan Ladd): In this film version, as in the 2013 offering, Gatsby drives a Duesenberg (though I don’t know year or model). According to vintage car expert Jerry Garrett, “The point of having Gatsby owning a Rolls-Royce in the book, and having a closet full of clothes from England, was to help sell his fantasy girl Daisy Buchanan on his lie of having gone to school at Oxford. The original Duesenberg was made in Indiana. Would Daisy, a society belle from Louisville, Kentucky, have been impressed with a Hoosier?”