This writer has a good friend whose father used to buy a new car every two years, no matter if the “old” car was still ruinable and still did its job. Around the fall, deal ol’ dad would get the new version of the same vehicle, not so much by the type of car (sedan, compact, etc.) but the made and model. In this case, it was a Chevy Impala, perhaps the signature model and one of the gemstones of the entire General Motors domain.
From c.1959 through 1977, “dad” would trek on over to the local dealership with wife and kid in tow to see what was available from the dealer’s stock. He wasn’t very picky with his choice of vehicle. He didn’t care much for any fancy options that were applicable for the car. All he wanted was a decent radio (at the time an optional item), and an air conditioner unit that blew cool comfortable air. There were other factors made available, from trim packages to unique colors, but al long as there was a radio (AM only) and an A/C, he was OK about it.
Sadly, a few months after he got his latest replacement vehicle, a bottle green 1977 Impala, dad suffered a stroke that left him disabled for the rest of his life. Mom and the now adult daughter took over the car’s usage where it remained within the family well into the 1990’s.
What dad did back in those days was rather common. People would buy new cars, use them for a few years, only to trade up for a new vehicle. Again, it didn’t matter too much to the car’s age and running condition. It was just considered that having a new(er) car was the only thing that mattered. This form of “recycling” was the norm for vehicle ownership that lasted until the 1990’s, when holding on to one’s car stretched through longer days and much longer years.
In today’s times, not only folks are keeping their cars longer than ever before (its average age is roughly eleven years–give or take), but in some situations, folks are getting rid of their vehicles once and for all!
According to a report filed by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), more households are becoming carless, only to reply on other methods of transportation. This trend of a homestead sans car has been climbing since 2007. Their report states that a little over 9 percent of domestic. households were without a vehicle in 2012, up from 8.7 percent five years beforehand. UMTRI predicts that the number of households will increase to 10% by 2020.
So what’s the reason behind losing the wheels? There are plenty! For starters, those living in large urbanized cities are taking advantage of public transportation, from busses, light rail, subways, and whatever one can use to get around from their point A to point B. In New York City, 56% of households do not have a car. In the Washington DC metro area, the number is 38%. Boston comes in third at 37%, followed by Philadelphia (33%) San Francisco (31%), Baltimore (31%), Chicago at 28%-one of the most accessible cities to get around via public system as provided by the CTA and other transportation companies, and even Detroit, ground zero for American cars, holding its own at 26%.
Cars and their owners were at one time a hand-and-hand–or to be exact, a wheel-and-hand relationship. People were rather proud to have a car, part of the so-called American dream by owning a house stocked with a shiny car sitting in its garage, driveway, and/or carport. People would take photos and/or home movies of family members standing along and/or sitting within their vehicle as if the car was a family member! These same folks, as with the case of “dad”, would get a new car every so many years, usually sticking to the same make, model, or type of car, such as one station wagon to the next. Teens found it to be a right of passage of getting that first driver’s license where, for the first time in their lives, they could go wherever they wanted (within limits of course) without bumming a ride for mom, dad, or one of their buddies. If one didn’t own a car, it was because you either could not drive, or you had nowhere to go.
Of course, this was during the era when the new cars of then are today’s museum pieces. It took years when the love of a car within the family began to slowly sour. When the so-called energy crisis took hold in late 1973, people thought that gas was going to ruin their budgets. Paying over fifty cents for regular was indeed highway robbery. (Pun intended!) As time progressed, cars got better in terms of gas milage, safety issues, as well as what one can place inside and on the car itself. But zooming a number of years to today, the factors still kick in. Gas is around $3.50 a gallon, and auto insurance is not only costly, but it’s mandatory. Also, those who may want a car may not be able to because they can’t afford one in terms of paying for basic maintenance. Once upon a time, it was quite possible to fix some problems themselves. Many type of cars, such as the 1970’s era Chevy Novas, were considered “kit” cars where it was easy to replace parts and do some basic support. Today, cars are so complex, one would have to know what they are doing to work on their cars, and many don’t want to even bother! And those aged 16 and up? They are more interested in what their smart phones can do than to drive around in some oversized vehicle that is costly to own and operate as it is!
In some communities, such as Los Angeles where this writer is based, public transportation exists, but is rather dicey. Many routes do not necessarily go to where one desires to go, and the time it takes to getting from A to B can take as long as two hours or more. And if one wanted to travel after hours (10:00 PM and beyond), many routes either operate in limited times or not at all!
Perhaps that is why the collector’s car market of standard stock vehicles, rather than specialty models, tends to stop at the 1973 model year. A 1970 Chevy Impala is rather desirable. A 1980 version of the same kind of car might be considered amusing, but that’s about it. A 1990 edition is just “meh”! A 2000 model is a bigger “meh”. Again the tastes may vary, but twenty years ago, a 20 year old car was rather attractive for what it was. A twenty year old car in today’s terms isn’t much to write home about, unless again, it was a specialty or a unique make and model.
People today still love their cars. A few don’t really like then nor do they hate them, but it takes them where they want to go! The rest had their falling outs. It was “my way or the highway!” Looks like they did it my way and told their cars to hit the road, Jack, and don’t come back no more, no more, no more, no more!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Continuing its run at the Two Roads Theatre in Studio City is Tom Stoppard’s THE REAL THING, a “dramity” that joins real life and stage life with the notion of trust applied through a seamless manor.
The play opens with Max (Fox Carney) an architect by trade and married to Charlotte (Susan Silversti), discovers that his spouse is having an affair. But this is a scene from a play called House of Cards written by Henry (Michael Robb), featuring his wife Charlotte. Henry the playwright is having an affair of his own to Annie (Cindy Marinangel), who is really married to Max. He’s in turn married to Charlotte, who he leaves rather “clean; That is, without regretting the fact that he is walking away. This in turn builds toward a element of fiction that becomes fact. It’s a saga of trust, betrayal, as well as taking a political stand for the era its speaks for.
This play written by Stoppard holds a lot of dialogue that crosses within a blend of wit, wisdom, as well as making references to popular culture; Mostly, 1950’s and 60’s period music! (Much of it as American rock ‘n roll at that!) It’s also a play that’s very talky, with more words spoken throughout its rather complex plot compared to the actual action seen on stage. As to this production, the cast of players present their roles as mildly British, speaking in the so-called “Queen’s English”, rather than lowly cockney tones. (The entire play takes place in various scenes in London and thereabouts!) In addition, it’s a mild period piece. Outside of the usage of land phone lines, there’s really nothing dated per se. It’s very intimate as well. Diana Martin and Larry White’s set design allows the many scenes to change quite easily, from Max’s flat, to Henry’s apartment, to a compartment on a British style passenger train.
The entire cast appearing also features Brandin Irons as Brodie, a Scot who did time for vandalizing the national tomb of the unknown soldier as a protest to the military might, Anna Laura Singleton as Debbie, Henry and Charlotte’s young adult daughter, and Jared Boghosian as Billy, an actor appearing in Henry’s play who Annie may be having an affair with or not. The cast of seven intertwine with one another through each plot twist. And with each turn, one would expect to find soap opera techniques, since a premise of unfaithfulness enhances such melodrama. However, there is too many great lines and verbiage spoken by the cast as directed by Linda Alznauer. Nevertheless, sappy plot points and maneuvers are never given a chance to remotely settle in.
THE REAL THING doesn’t necessarily thrive from the creative school of “write what you know of”. (A story written by a successful playwright that features a successful playwright creating a play!) It’s more of a tale that speaks for life as it exists, or existed then. Unlike real life where dialogue is uttered in a choppy mode, full of repeated and disjoined sentences spoken with poor grammar and unfocused notions, this play has all of the confabulation cleaned up. And with those British accents articulated by the cast, it makes time and passage all the better!
THE REAL THING, presented by Riley Productions, performs at the Two Roads Theatre, 4348 Tujunga Avenue (one block south of Moorpark), Studio City, until March 9th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations and for more information, call (323) 822-7898, or online at http://www.Plays411.com/TheRealThing
TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
Pizza in the oven–check.Chips and dip–check. Veggies and humus–check.Juice and seltzer–check. Jammies and blankets–check….Snuggling in front of the TV screen with my girls for a long-awaited, anticipated evening of…British Drama and Lone Ranger !
The week before vacation is tough in regards to focus (I have none.) and groceries. I don’t want to buy food because I don’t want leftovers … but then I have no food.
Prince talks. Who knew? The 80’s live!!!!
Going to bed now. There’s some sport on the telly a bit like rugby but with motorcycle helmets and they keep stopping for a little rest. Can’t be doing with that!
It’s movie time!!!
As of February 10th, Tiffi has 2,013 Facebook “friends” and counting!
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