EPISODE V: A Car Culture Shift
America had always been known for a few things: greatness, badassery, guns, and the car culture. Great movies like Bullitt and Smokey and the Bandit, put the Mustang and Trans Am vehicles out front which made them true icons of American culture. If you are a man and haven’t watched either of these movies, it is a must that you do so or tear up your man card and light that shit on fire. If you are a male Hipster, Millennial, Antifa Member, Social Justice Warrior, Easily Offended and/or work at a Starbucks, these are required movies you must watch… if any of you I just mentioned, ever decide to apply for your man card. The fifty, sixtys and seventies were the muscle car years, big cars with big engines, cruising boulevards or strip mall parking lots showing off these great looking machines with pride. In my opinion, those were the greatest decades of car culture. Off-road trucks and SUV’s tearing up dirt roads and big box store parking lots, their footprints in American culture larger than their huge mudder tires make in an open pasture. The car culture of these modern times is much different. The vehicles are much more technologically advanced, but lack soul. The Asian vehicles of today are excellent in the reliability and gas mileage department, but they don’t actually stir the soul, like an IROC Camaro or Corvette. I can never understand why these car companies cannot bridge these two concepts, “stirring the soul” good looks and new school reliability and technology. I drive a Dodge Durango powered by a 5.7 liter Hemi engine. It sure does bridge the gap of the “holy crap that truck is Badass and has amazing technology.” It gets about three feet to a gallon and it’s too new to gauge its long term reliability, but its fast as a rocket sled on the rails and looks like a beast and makes environmentalists pee themselves. I love that!
Recently, a friend of our family’s son stopped by to show off his new car. His name is Tammeron, I think that name sounds like a spice I’d put on my Christmas Egg Nog, but that’s apparently a name. I have a soft spot for this kid. His Dad left the family for a nineteen year old Waffle House waitress, so when he comes to talk to me, I try to give him support. I get where he’s coming from, I grew up in New Jersey and we didn’t have Waffle Houses but we did have Diners, and our Diners were great. Anyway, my dad had a “friend” named Lola, who was a waitress at the local Diner, who he would spend weekends with from time to time. Lola had a unique look. She was a cross between 1992 Kathy Bates and 2018 Madonna. Lola’s hair was bleached more aggressively than an Abercrombie and Fitch Model’s teeth. That hair was piled ridiculously high, even by Jersey standards. Lola’s hair was higher than Snoop Dog. It took about twelve cans of Aqua Net to hold the shit in place. Lola talked in a Minnie mouse style voice and cursed like a Philadelphia truck driver, all the while snapping her Juicy Fruit Gum like Indiana Jones Snapped his whip. She was a real pleasure. But I digress, I try to spend time with Tammeron, since his dad isn’t around. I try to be there for some man influence. Obviously there was no man influence, during the car buying process, because parked in my driveway was a black Econo car. I didn’t notice it as a car at first, I thought it was a hockey puck souvenir from last night’s Predator’s game. I honestly don’t even know, who the manufacturer was, they all look the same. Tammeron stood next to it smiling proudly asking for my opinion. My true reaction was to fall to my knees and weep in sorrow for the death of Tammeron’s masculinity. I was good though, and saved his feelings. I gave him a thumbs up and said, “Cool ass color”. Tammeron excitedly told me he was capable of getting something like a thousand miles to a gallon. He asked me what he would be capable of getting if he would have bought a Durango. I wanted to say the truth, “The respect of his male peers and girls to date him.” But I just shrugged and said, “You will surely be able to get a parking space in front of an upscale coffee shop.” Tammeron invited me to take a ride, and being the supportive older adult figure, I ran inside and switched out my Sig P320 I was carrying, for my Glock 42, so the weight of the firearm didn’t throw off the vehicles balance, than I jumped in. How did it feel? The initial thought was that the vehicle felt as sturdy as the $19.99 piece of exercise equipment my mom would buy from some television shopping channel. Bought on January first to jump start the new Year’s resolution and broken by February, folded and shoved under the bed, with my old Rockem- Sockem Robots. I closed the door of Tammeron’s car and the rear vew mirror turned all the way to the right and down. It hung there, in defeat like those flying Martian”s eye balls in The War of the Worlds movie. Tammeron gleefully gunned it and said “I better be careful, I don’t want to get a ticket.” Ticket?? that car couldn’t reach the speed limit if it dropped out of an airplane! Freeway entrance ramps were a far scarier experience, like seeing Rosie O’Donnell in Yoga pants. The whole ride was bumpy, shaky and uninspiring, like experiences I’ve had when I deal with a Y wellness floor manager. My coccyx bone prayed this torture would soon be over; but, he seemed to be enjoying himself and I guess that’s what mattered.
My first car was 1970 Pontiac LeMans. It was gold and had a gas guzzling V8 engine that roared and it burned rubber. Airbags were for space shuttles in those days and your seatbelts were waist belts only. It had an AM/FM radio and the knobs stuck out like Benchmade Knives. Things were less “safety controlled” back then. Everybody who was lucky enough to have a car, it seemed, had something cool. The new cars of the day were too expensive for the High School and Community College kids, which was probably a good thing looking back. The soul was quickly being removed from the new vehicles, where the cool spoilers and other personal accessories, were being replaced by pedestrian square people movers. I believe it was great experiencing the Americana of car culture, hanging out in the parking lot front of the Lincroft Krauzers, drinking large fountain sodas and listening to music blasting out cassette era hair band music from the car speakers, the brown haired beauty, who I just knew would be my wife, was at my side. We would talk about the future and dreams and laugh with our friends. We swore we would hang out like that forever! The friend’s part were pipe dreams of course. Some are lifelong friends, but sadly most friends come in and out of our lives like waiters and waitresses. Like most things, time and life interfere with best intentions. By the grace of God and her monumental patience, I still have that beautiful Brown haired girl, and she is more beautiful each time I look at her.
Although America’s true car culture is a thing of the past, I have found that America’s gun culture is going strong. I look around the Royal Range and I see it as the old parking lots of the past. We have moved indoors and cars have been replaced by guns! Men, women and entire families hanging out in the range showing off their modified pistols, rifles and shot guns. Their weapons painted and accessorized to show their personalities. Good natured ribbing over who’s the better shot and which brand handgun is the most reliable. I’m a retired police officer and I must say that at times I miss being a part of that culture, but I have found a new community of likeminded people. I have made, what I believe, are more lifelong friends here and that makes this place special. I hope there are others who have found similar experiences. These types of experiences always make me feel nostalgic and maybe these changes and swapping out old cultures for new ones isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that the new culture is better than the old. They’re just different. Cars and Guns are America. They’re both badass ingredients that make up Americana. So perhaps there is hope out there for the American Male and American Badassery……you just have to keep a 1911 on your hip and maybe a Remington 870 in your hatchback. Keep it in the center, remember that vehicle balance.
Carl Fuerst-The Fuerst Option
RSO, Trainer, Blogger
The Fuerst Option Safety Suggestion
This is maybe more for men than women given the plumbing situation. Men instead of using the standing urinals, which are usually out in the open, when the need arises, use the stall, and be sure to lock the door. This goes for the ladies also, and if the door has no lock, hold it closed with your hands or feet. Ladies try to make sure your gun is safe and accessible. Being in the stall behind a secure door, gives you an extra layer of protection and a little extra reaction time. So remember- Watch your butt when it’s time to pee.