Saturday, June 04, 2005

. . .and now a message from Mister Mellow

When my friend Jay and I are (often) on the 405 freeway driving north and south here in L.A., he is always at the wheel and so I pay a lot of attention to who and what is going on in the vehicles around us. For example, coming back from whitebread, upper-middle-class Costa Mesa in Orange County the other day, I took note of not a single African-American---not one!--- driving any kind of vehicle for miles and miles (I'm talking hundreds upon hundreds of conveyances) until we were closing in on Inglewood, a heavily populated black area. The number of blacks didn't rise incrementally as we got closer to that suburb, it just jumped vertiginously. I have no point to make. . .just an observation.

I also have become aware that when people are yammering away on cell phones whilst behind the wheel on the freeway (and approximately 1 out of 5 are), they tend to be staring off into space---almost always to the right---rather than looking at the road in front of them. That is perhaps why the accident rate involving drivers talking on the cursed things is beyond astronomical. Something like half?

And I wonder just what the statistics are on auto accident reports that contain the phrase, "driver's vision blocked by adjacent SUV"?

Usually the SUV drivers I observe on the 405 freeway tend to be alone, overwhelmingly female, blonde, 35.5 years of age, and as often as not ---you guessed it!---blabbering away on a cell phone. Sigmund Freud once observed that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But in the case of SUVs. . .I wonder. (You do the symbolic math.)

I hate SUVs even more than I hate rap, Paris Hilton, cell phones, and nose rings combined. And that's a LOT! Not sure exactly why, but the site of various pierced lips, noses, and those round objects in guys' earlobes tends to induce reverse peristalsis in me. I have to look away very quickly, or else I'll hurl. Come to think of it. . .the latter might not be such a bad idea.

Even if the new hybrid SUVs just now coming off the assembly line ARE energy efficient, I don't care: I want my driver's horizon back! I find it so extraordinary that only a few decades ago U.S. citizens prided themselves on the utilitarian, eco-friendly smallness of their vehicles, and today it is just the opposite. And so you can imagine just how much good the following editiorial---not sure of its genesis---did my olde heart when I received it via email this a.m. from a friend.

... and Running Down SUVs

Reports of the death of sport-utility vehicles are premature. But in a nation well-divided between SUV owners and SUV haters, gas prices have been shrinking the ranks of the former, while the rest cheer that maybe they'll be able to see farther down the freeway than the square back of the vehicle immediately in front. Sales are way down for U.S. automakers that have built their lines on SUVs, The Times reported Thursday, and a GM executive said the company will cut its production of the larger ones. America has been so in love with the SUV that it's hard to imagine a time when they were a rarity on the road. It's even harder to imagine a return to such a time. What would we do with all the SUVs if they were unceremoniously turned out of U.S. garages? Our 10 top suggestions:

10. Convert them into condos for Great Danes.

9. Take off the wheels and doors for children's playhouses. Stack and weld for play towers.

8. Fold down the seats and add blankets for guest quarters.

7. Take out the seats and voila: room for all your garden tools.

6. Open the sunroof and fill, for a super-sized frontyard planter.

5. Swap the hoses and pipes for plumbing and finally get that extra bathroom.

4. Caulk them to create the first aquariums with privacy glass for shy fish.

3. Sink them offshore as artificial reefs.

2. Donate them to the Bay Area so Northern Californians will have the metal, if not mettle, to build a new Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.

1. Imagine: hot tubs with comfortable seating.

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1 comment:

Steve Schalchlin said...

My hatred of SUVs matches yours. And you are so right about who's in the cockpit of these death machines, yammering on the phone, staring into space while they bear down on you.