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Steel Wheels

The Tao Of Motorcycling

Unsafe At Any Speed

Corvair Truck Front

In 1960 Chevrolet introduced the only American made air-cooled rear engine car. In 1965 it was dubbed “The One-Car Accident” by a young muckraking activist in a hit-piece on the auto industry called, “Unsafe At Any Speed.” The Chevy Corvair made Ralph Nader famous. This is the Pickup version and you can see it today at Gen’s Antiques on 19th Street in The Heights.

Corvair Rear

Corvair Back-Side

The Corvair was a stripped-down car targeted at the folks but the Pickup had innovations that have never been duplicated even today among Pickups: Cab-over forward control, rear engine mount, and a fold-down side panel on the bed makes a ramp for rolling-up cargo…like your motorcycle.

Corvair Pissing on Ralph Nader

The 60s were like no other decade before or since…you had to be there. No seat belts. No holds barred. No safe sex. Fender Stratocasters smashed and burned on stage. Civil Rights. Psychedelic music. Psychedelic T-shirts. Psychedelics. The original Mustang. Louis Armstrong, Louie Louie, and Gloria all in one decade. And the Chevy Corvair…until that humorless little troll killed it with the stroke of his righteous pen.

Corvair Pickup 1

In 1969 Woodstock signaled the end of the longest strangest trip in modernity. And the end of the Chevy Corvair. The Corvair symbolized the 60s perfectly: heat-seeking-cool, stripped-down, dangerous as hell, and unsafe at any speed. When Ralph Nader killed the Corvair he killed fun, he killed the 60s, and he no doubt saved thousands of lives.

Still, if this Corvair Pickup ever comes up For Sale, the next thing you’ll see is me driving West on I-10 toward Santa Barbara with my motorcycle sitting over the rear-engine, a mile of smile on my face.

All The Stage Is A World…Signifying Nothing

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The worlds of Will Shakespeare come to us today in Revue form complete with muzak signalling Scene changes. The plays are lightened because the political turmoil of Elizabethan times is absent in the modern audience—the crucial context enjoyed by Shakespeare’s original audiences is long gone. The Bard’s audience was the poor masses of London…quite possibly the most informed people in the history of the world.

Shakespeare has been shown by certain modern scholars to have hidden wisdom in his scripts…but might any commoner on the streets of London have gotten it all straight-away? Politics was always the backdrop for Shakespeare’s plays. Tragedy and Love may be front and center but Politics seems to have been on everyone’s mind in Elizabethan times and knowing those details give the plays texture…and therein lies the problem for contemporary treatment. Today, you have to know too much history to get the Full Monty of Shakespeare. The modern approach to dealing with that is to depict the plays in a modern context: modern scenes, dress, language, along with adulterations such as gangsta-rap, neon lights, and bizarre sets. It often works because there are so many talented directors, actors, and actresses. These modern productions are almost always good. Yet Shakespeare’s worlds are all but lost on today’s stage.

Ironically, the modern treatment of Love may be the greatest endangerment to those miraculous plays. Love is Shakespeare’s great MacGuffin. But the presentation of love in Shakespeare is now so playful and superficial that it is tempting to believe the fall of eros was well underway in Elizabethan England and that the Rolling Stones have been unfairly maligned lo these many decades.

Nevertheless, it’s always fun to go see and hear what’s left of Shakespeare’s England on the stage at Miller Theater every Summer. Who knows…?…maybe the sound and fury signifies something…even if we no longer remember what it is.

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“The Merchant Of Venice” at Miller Outdoor Theater – August 5th 2015

White Linen. Blue Moon. Havana Jazz. Texas Cigaros.

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White Linen Night in The Heights  …August 1st 2015

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