Saturday, January 15, 2011


OK, now we're talking fine automobiles.  This was known as the Klingon War Cruiser.  It even had a "WARP DRIVE" toggle switch on the bridge (some might call it a dashboard).  This was a wonder of GM innovation.  I mentioned it in another post.  For some reason, some people thought that converting a gasoline engine to diesel was a good idea.  It wasn't.  But timing is everything.  Just at  about 100,000 miles, GM did a recall on these and put actual diesel engines in them.  Well, just after that, my parents were driving down the freeway and a wheel bearing did something that I never fully understood and the left front wheel actually came off at full freeway speed.  I suppose to repay me for all the hell I had put them through up to this point, they asked me if I wanted it.  I was in grad school at the time and figured, "why not?"  My best friend was from London and thought these titanic American cars were wonderful.  Among my little group of Nahuatl scholars at UCLA, this car became iconic.  Despite the fact that Gail would not ride in it, I knew its profound value as a symbol of American decadence and poor taste.  In this picture, we are somewhere in New Mexico.  I was doing my dissertation on Colonial New Mexico, Matthew, the Limey, had a '58 Bel Aire that needed a new bumper so he came with me in the hopes of finding one amidst the sea of abandoned old cars that adorned every Pueblo and little village.  Why Kevin was there...not sure.  Amazingly enough, on the way home, just outside Farmington we found a '58 Bel Aire with a gleaming front bumper and nothing else.  We tracked down the owner and bought the bumper for $5.  I have no idea how long it took to get that stupid thing off.  The experience was heightened by a couple of really drunk Apaches who cheered us on by giving a UCLA war cry in homage to Kevin's sweatshirt.  You might be surprised how quickly something like that can become annoying.  Eventually, Matthew and I broke each and every one of those rusted bolts loose and we were on our way.

I must admit, after a couple of years, the iconic status of the War Cruiser was wearing thin.  But, being a bit short on funds, I could not justify getting a new vehicle until the warp drives gave out.  Then, to my great surprise, as I walked out to strap in the pod, I noticed an empty parking space between our new Mustang and our neighbor's new Corvette.  Yes, some hooligans had made off with the ship.  I was at first mystified, then somewhat elated and then dismayed as I realized that the back seat was full of rare library books.  Three weeks later, some very sly detectives noticed that an abandoned puke yellow War Cruiser had been docked in a "No Parking on Thursday for Street Sweeping" zone.  A broken driver's window, a split steering column housing and a screwdriver jammed in the ignition along with three weeks worth of tickets led them to suspect something might be amiss.  Thus, the Cruiser returned to me.  Fortunately, the books were still there.  I was shocked, because I figured that's why the gangbangers stole it in the first place.  Perhaps they read them and had no further need of them.  I could no longer keep her however.  She had been defiled.  Aside from that, I was afraid I was going to be flying that ship for the rest of my life.  It just wouldn't die.  I put 200,000 miles on it after my parents bequeathed it to me.  Good memories.

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