December 8, 2012
The Los Angeles Auto Show is nothing more than a gigantic jewelry store for men. We ogle the latest bangles from Germany, Japan and, increasingly, Ohio. Have you seen the Acura NSX, cut like an engagement ring? That's right, made in Ohio. It may be the most hormonal item to come out of the Buckeye State since "Glee." And just the right thing to wear to your next Lakers game.
Me, I can't afford a Lakers game or an NSX. But a boy can dream. And as my buddy Paulie says, most of us will never own the home of our dreams. But with a lot of saving and a little luck, we might one day manage a very nice automobile.
Come on, let me show you something in a little retro roadster.
The yellow Morgan roadster is a classic, made for a weekend drive through New England with Ali MacGraw. Instead of a traditional trunk, it's got this big leather satchel that straps across its bupkis. That leather trunk is basically just big enough for Ali's eye makeup. Her shoes would have to travel separately.
In fact, Ali would probably have to go separately, because from what I remember in "Goodbye, Columbus" she could be a real chatterbox. When I drive, all I really want to hear are the stereo and a kid in the back seat screaming, "DAD, I'VE GOT TO PEE, I'VE GOT TO PEEEEEE!"
For me, that sums up the joy of driving.
Now, let me show you something in a breadbox.
More and more, I like these micro Fiats, about the size of a fleeting thought. To warm them up on a cold morning, just slide them in the nearest toaster.
A little tight in the back seat, maybe. I hear the new Fiats come with their own chiropractor, who lives with you for as long as you own the car.
"Who's that?" friends will ask.
"Oh, that's just Irving," you'll say.
"Jeez, and all I got was floor mats."
Aston Martin not only makes the prettiest sedan in the world, it might make the prettiest anything. I might be lovesick for this car. In fact, if you go out to the show this weekend, don't miss the Concourse Hall, a smaller room that sits between the two main halls in the often-confusing convention industrial complex.
In the Concourse Hall, you'll find these sensational Aston Martins, the Morgans, a James Bond car, the cheeky and oversexed Saleens (how do you even get in those things?), the Lotuses and the Shelbys.
For many men, this is what heaven would look like if you eliminated chicken wings and cheerleaders.
The main halls are somehow less satisfying. There is no light quite so harsh as convention center light — a solar storm, a retinal scorching. T.C. Boyle once referred to a "gentle spill of light...." Well, there are no gentle spills at the L.A. Auto Show, though at the Acura exhibit, it looks like someone opened a can of Sprite over the back window of a new crossover something or other.
Which reminds me: There are two types of cars in America, crossover compromises and little econo-box sedans. I find them a good place to store rubber bands.
By the way, I know the world is more connected by the moment, but I don't look to my car for greater connectivity. I look to it for escape. So I'd take a sunroof — or a personal chiropractor — over a voice-activated NASA console every time.
But those are minor quibbles on the annual jaunt to the L.A. Auto Show, which runs through Sunday. In car-crazy L.A., your vehicle isn't just transportation, it's a $35,000 pair of imported shoes.
At one point, I am almost too happy, so to counter that strange emotion I pony up 26 bucks for two cheeseburgers and two drinks for my 9-year-old and his buddy.
I consider half of that a tax-free donation to the Aramark Corp., which seems to be everywhere these days — ballparks, cafeterias, convention centers.
In fact, if in mid-chew, you ever find yourself wondering "Gee, this tastes like road kill. Who made this delightful swill?" it was probably Aramark.
Savor every chewy bite.
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