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Signs of the Times

My band, “Enablers” and I made it home in relatively good shape from yet another European tour and once again I tried my best to do some Mopar spotting. In Hamburg I caught a glimpse of a neon yellow flash out of the corner of my eye and managed a glimpse of a jacked up '70 Coronet disappearing around a corner. The fact that I saw this in Hamburg does not surprise me as Hamburg is home to Motoraver magazine. Motoraver is a German car culture mag with hip layouts on style, music and cars… mostly 60’s muscle and many times Mopar is the favored marquee. All you German as a second language folks ought to give it a try.

The only other Mopar I saw was a maroon Newport from '66 or '67 parked in a parking garage, moldering away, in Madrid. I’ve heard all the stories regarding the paucity of Mopes built for export and I can definitely vouch for the veracity of those stories. There must be more of them out there but with gasoline hovering at 1.50 euros a liter (uh, try around $8.64 a gallon) they must not come out to play very often. However, with the dollar taking another beating more of them will probably wind up over there despite the price of gas… and maybe because of the price of gas their wedge headed hearts will be ripped out in favor of electric power plants. Don’t sneer so fast… it’s coming soon and I can’t wait.

Speaking of electric cars, I read somewhere that Chrysler unveiled some sort of plan to build one… aways down the road. Reportedly, they did this to boost the flagging morale of dealership owners sinking under the weight of a poor economy and vehicles nobody wants. The fact that the car won’t be out for years must’ve really soothed their nerves. I don’t think this sort of thinking prevailed when the mighty Chrysler building was erected in New York City back in 1930. I’m a perennial fan of this towering (1046 foot) art deco monument designed by William Van Alen and I paid a visit last week because our tour ended with shows in NYC and Brooklyn.

The Chrysler building really is incredible and you can still check out the formidable lobby with its book-matched Moroccan marble walls and mural ceiling. The ceiling, done by Edward Trumball depicts air travel, culture and industry around the world, and the Chrysler assembly line is worth the side trip. I really dig all the little details too; like the lobby mail box, the signage, repetitive lightning bolt motifs and the lavish use of chrome and stainless. Even the little stanchions holding out the handrails from the black marble walls echo the art deco feel. The famous gargoyles are Chryco hood ornaments and the winged caps below are radiator caps. Most of all there is something about the building that says Chrysler is first rate quality. No corners cut here, no siree. According to the historical displays the tower once housed a two bedroom, “lavish apartment” for Walter P. Chrysler himself. I’m not entirely sure, but the apartment might be a thing of the past.

Well, hopefully first rate quality won’t become a thing of the past at Chrysler. Taking that a step further, hopefully Chrysler won’t become a thing of the past either. Even the once mighty hedge funds are taking big hits. Oh yeah, sure I have faith in the unfettered market. I don’t know about y’all, but what a joke, and who really did not see this coming? Overvalued houses to be had for nothing down? Yeah right, it’ll last forever!!! Wooo Hooo!!! Well, if you are one of the millions suffering out there I am truly sorry. You and your American dreams were preyed upon by bankers and realtors who will now be bailed out with your money. Helluva system ain’t it?

Well, this country has been through tough times before but back in the age of the Chrysler building people were put back to work…not thrown out while the clowns who got us into the mess were bailed out. Forgive my pessimistic/sarcastic tone here. It is just that the times have produced this attitude. I am a believer in the American people and hopefully one day we can feel like a nation of neighbors who want to help each other out. Not a nation divided into rich and poor with no middle and a “me vs. you” mentality.  

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