Saturday, February 23, 2008

Meet the New Ford Hybrid

The marketing boys up in Dearborn, Michigan, were fond of the phrase, "The Ford Family of Fine Cars." As is often the case in more recent times some diversity has come to the family.

At the junction of Old State ( Hwy.176 ) and Jedberg Roads we encountered a family member which had undergone a bit of makeover. The venerable Ford Crown Victoria, the last rear wheel drive full sized 4 door sedan extant, the nation's police car and the choice of older, less agile Americans, had obviously gone through some ch-ch-ch-changes.

The car has been painted what are decidedly the school colors of the University of Michigan, but we don't recall Bart Simpson ever coaching the Wolverines. He is portrayed on the left rear quarter panel of the car either confounded by or coveting the "26's". This is a reference to the diameter of the wheel rims: 26 inches! The Crown Vic comes with 16 inch wheels and the Mustang is fitted with 17 inchers. In addition to promoting an element of style, these much larger wheels have the effect of causing slower acceleration, even slower braking, speedometer error, but increased fuel economy. We would expect larger wheels to cost more, but this class of wheel is exponentially more expensive. Many are in fact leased rather than sold outright. Those baloon payments can be pretty tough. When the FED recently lowered interest rates, we're certain that may sets were refinanced. Talk about reinventing the wheel !

They have elsewhere been suggested as the perfect configuration for navigating the low lying streets of the Charleston peninsula. When most SUVs are stalled and flooded out in the high water on the Crosstown, one would still be charging ahead and gleefully spraying them with the impounded brown tide which collects on those wet days.

The customizing is done locally so it amounts to a form of native art. We spoke with the friendly fellow who had actually done the work himself. Across the top of the windshield is marked, " 843-KUSTOMS " which in no way computes with the telephone he gave us, but that's the artist's privilege we feel. Why make it too easy?

So, it protects our drivers from the regularly rising waters, saves fuel and enables revenge upon trucks and SUVs. There's not doubt about it, this is a hybrid in its own right.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Monday, February 11, 2008

Hey, graffiti bums, this Bond's for YOU

Here's some artwork painted on a building which we dedicate to the bums who paint graffiti on City of Charleston equipment and on private property against the wishes of the owner.

We love all sorts of crazy, eccentric, beautiful, profane paintings on buildings....which the owner wanted on their building. We recognize uninvited graffiti, however, as a criminal act.

Through a failure of character and an absence of decency the defacing of property has been committed by tiny clusters of dolts who don't really matter, but wish they did. In a few local tabloids, blogs, on posters it is celebrated by people who would like to be arbiters of art and opinion, but are not.

Are those who deface property with graffiti rebels? No, they're retards. Are these blows against the empire? No, these are bums blowing paint on the property of other people. There's nothing heroic or artful or creative about these criminal acts. There is no native art at work, no expressions of ethnicity, no exercise of freedom in these self embarrassments. The idiots who do this are petty thieves because they steal from us all. They are not master criminals, but lower life forms.

So, for the vandals who damage our property and foul our view, this bond is for you. We hope it's a high one. The City of Charleston Police Department sends officers to paint over the graffiti in the same way we have to scoop up what the doggie leaves behind. It's one in the same. They are also looking to arrest you and we hope they do and we will help the police any way we can.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Oaks Plantation....once

In the photograph we are at The Oaks Plantation house which had most recently served as the clubhouse for The Oaks Country Club. The house sat on about 1,600 acres of land at Goose Creek in Berkeley County, South Carolina.

This building was constructed around 1892 to replace the previous structure of 1840 which had burned. Around 1930 the place was sold and much of the elaborate Georgian woodwork was stripped along with other significant appointments. Between the Civil War and the onset of the Great Depression of 1929, many fine old plantation houses were badly ransacked.

The Lowcountry did not recover from either tragic period until World War II production brought many jobs and much cash to the Charleston area. Hard times starved a lot of people, but it certainly saved some wonderful old buildings.

The well worn adjective, stately, seems appropriate when placed in any description of The Oaks. This is how it looked in November of 2005. When it burned down last night the fire took some two hundred years of history away forever. It's gone and no modern replication of the structure would rise above the level of poor imitation.

We lose these grand old buildings to developers, neglect, hurricanes and fires. They don't come back like your wrecked Jaguar from the body shop. The just don't come back.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

McClure-less at the Pump

In their previous life Exxon was Esso which had been Standard Oil many years before that. We've pulled up to the pump at McClure's Esso station outside of Tryon, North Carolina. The posted price of Esso (regular) is 19.9 cents and Esso Extra (premium) is 23.3 cents per gallon. A second sign says " No Gas Today " and it will say the same tomorrow.

McClure's is a well preserved example of the classic country filling stations which were posted less than a tank of gas between each other along the nations highways. This is how gas was priced and the stations looked a little more than 45 years ago. In those days one never pumped their own gas.

Had McClure's been in business when we rolled up there would have been a man checking the oil, one wiping the windshield, another checking the air pressure in the tires in the time it took yet another to fill up the tank. Being that we were in the mountains, all readings would be carefully made and conditions reported to the driver. Any failure on their part to be courteous and efficient might well get back to Mr. McClure or perhaps the widow McClure as these were almost always family businesses. There was accountability up and down the line.

We would be using Esso Extra in this car so that filling the tank from nearly empty would have come to $3.24 with a little running down the fender. When we took on that same volume of fuel just down the road, the tab was $41.17 with our taking great care not to spill on drop. That was at a convenience store at which the cashier would have little noticed if the car had caught fire as long as we'd paid in advance. They couldn't give you directions to anywhere from there, but would sell you a map for around five bucks. If you needed help with car trouble, you'd get a shrug at no extra charge. If you were offended by any of this, just try to get the name and address of a managing person to write. If it gets written, imagine the horse laughter your letter will receive as it gets tossed into the can by low level corporate indoor help.

Exxon, now Exxon-Mobil, again reported record earnings for the previous quarter last week. It was stunning news in a tanking economy. For the year they hauled in $77,213 per MINUTE. During the short time it took to fill up the Mustang's tank, Exxon-Mobil gobbled down $111,959.

Loathing the high gasoline prices as much if not more than most, we still find it a bargain in our way of thinking. The dollar to BTU ratio is highway robbery, but the intangible value of finding our way to places of character, mystery and beauty is something on which we cannot place a price. Exxon Mobil, however, can and does. Happy Motoring !