Hey Wally, when did you learn so much about cars?
Gosh Beav, don’t you know as soon as a guy turns 16, he automatically knows everything about cars.
I never got the “car bug.” Not in a big way, anyway. Had slot cars as a pre-teen (although our cars didn’t go NEARLY this fast) and loved them. Around 15, I tried to get into all the arcane differences between The Judge GTO and a blown 426 hemi , but I never really “got it.”
I even remember pouring over Car & Driver and Road & Track mags (with my best friend Tom Gandy) like they were engineering porn. (This was a year or so before girls’ breasts became the only headlights of real interest.)
The thing was, I never really understood a 4-barrel carburetor, and didn’t care to learn. I faked my way through a few years of high school pretending to be like Wally Cleaver debating the merits of STP (remember Andy Granatelli?) radial tires or Hurst shifters, but fundamentally, I knew I was out of my league with the guys (like Tom and my brother Brett) who really loved deciphering what was going on (good or bad) under one of those giant metal hoods.
Funny thing though, even though I’m a mechanical bozo, cars always did fascinate me. I love the look of a vintage Corvette (yep, my dad even owned one at one time), and remember the thrill of working through the gears of the XKE Jag the old man brought home for an entire weekend test drive. (Do they still do THAT anymore?) He bought the Vette instead.
My mother’s 1970 Chrysler Imperial was the Queen Mary on wheels, and I loved everything about it, too, from the insane oversteer, to the 8-track tape deck.
Another oddball admission: I love the SoCal Mexican-American/Chicanx car culture, and consider it one of the most thoroughly American forms of artistic expression. I am constitutionally incapable of seeing a lowrider without being awestruck by all their religious, cross-cultural and candy-colored majesty. I look as out of place as a hillbilly in a synagogue when I’m walking among them, but to me, a Chicano car convention is as interesting as the Louvre.
So, I guess I’m conflicted about automobiles. I know just enough to be dangerous, but not enough to call myself a car lover or “enthusiast.” But I’ve never cared enough to attach much importance to the ones I’ve owned. And I still wouldn’t know a four-barrel carb if it bit me on my manifold.
THE CARS I HAVE OWNED:
1969 JAVELIN 3-speed manual – bought brand new for me by my folks — similar, but not as racy as the one above. I thought I was quite the stud in high school when I drove it. Totaled by my brother within months of me going off to college. The first car I had sex in. On December 31, 1969, if anyone’s interested.
FIAT 128 (Fix It Again Tony) – (Pictured at top of page as I was about to drive it from Winter Park, Florida to Danbury, Connecticut, in August, 1972.) l loved my little Fiat…I loved it even though it was about as reliable as a slot junkie with a drug problem. I loved it even after it caught on fire, in the middle of the night, on a freeway, at 70 mph, with my wife and baby inside. I think I had sex with my first ex-wife (pre-baby) in this car at a drive-in movie theater. As usual with sex in cars, it was an awkward but totally satisfying three minutes of my life.
CADILLAC Sedan de Ville – 1963 powder blue – totaled by an old fart who drove into it while it was parked on a street while I was in a library studying for law exams. (This is a recurring theme in my life with cars, as you’ll see below.) Sold for junk for $500 – and I had to drive it seven miles in first gear (top speed: 10 mph) to get it to the junkyard. You could’ve had sex with 15 people in the back of this beast, but alas, I was too busy with law school.
Absolutely shitty 1971 CHEVY Truck – the body literally was decomposing as you drove it. No sex. Not in the truck anyway.
Even shittier 1969 pale green FORD Galaxy 500 sedan – nicknamed “Lurch”, since you could read War and Peace between the time you pressed on the accelerator and it staggered forward.
DATSUN Maxima Diesel – solid car, engine sounded like a hamster on a flywheel with a 3 pound bucket of bolts. Generic Japanese but reliable.
PEUGEOT 1985 505 – best car I ever owned (above) – light in the ass but handled great, also had the most comfortable seats ever. The car in which I drove baby Hugh – #2 son Alex Curtas – home from the hospital.)
PEUGEOT 505 Station Wagon – lost in a divorce (sigh). For what this ex- had to put up with, she deserved more than just a car.
Some big ass MERCURY sedan that looked like a cop car and handled like a tank that I took off my partner’s hands because I couldn’t afford anything during the aforementioned divorce. Nailed in a parking lot where I was either grocery shopping or trolling for sex in a nearby tavern (forgot which). Whatever….the repairs weren’t worth it so traded it in for a…
Dark brown MERCURY Cougar – WTF was it with me and Mercurys in the early 90s? Was the color of shit. Looked like shit, drove like shit, too. The doors were the size of an airplane wing and took a weightlifter to open. Still remember chopping cocaine on the console with whatever bimbo-du-jour I was dating back then.
VOLKSWAGEN Passat – bright red, sorta cool and very quick, all I remember about it was the automatic seat belts, and I thought I was hot shit for the three years I drove it. (I wasn’t.) Memories are vague of front-seat diddling with some den mother of my son’s Cub Scout troop who was cheating on her husband. Good times.
Some 2-door, 2-tone, low-profile, piece-of-shit CHRYSLER Sebring that pretended to be a sports car but wasn’t (the closest I ever got to a car as a penile extender). This is the car I was driving when I went through my last divorce and partied like a rock star for a couple of years. No sex in it that I can recall, which is odd since I would’ve had sex with a mailbox in 1999.
CADILLAC Catera – nice when it worked; heavy small sedan; went through 5 batteries in 4 years. The Food Gal® and I had some great early necking sessions in the front seat, but I don’t think we ever drifted into horizontal mambo territory.
ACURA – the early Acuras (late 80s to early 2000s) were almost perfect cars…then they started making them in America. Hit in parking lot without me in car, minor damage. My 94 year old mother is still driving her 1990 Acura Legend (below).
ACURA – rear-ended once…with me in the car, minor damage; great for first 3 years; once it hit 36,000 miles everything started falling apart (overheated, brakes, fuel pump). Actual, driving proof of how much better Japanese cars were when they were made in Japan, not Alabama. Creamed in a parking lot while I was getting a pizza….sold to CarMax for $4,000.
HYUNDAI – 4-door generic sedan with all the sex appeal of Tilda Swinton – sold to CarMax 3 years ago for what I paid for it.
The Tally Sheet
50 years of driving
1 speeding ticket (in 2014)
2 fender benders (one my fault, bumped a car in front of me, while depressed/stressed out over pending divorce – wrote him a check on the spot)
3 cars creamed while parked
4 sexmobiles, maybe more
Drunk drivings avoided? Too numerous to count.
(There’s an old saying in the law: The only people who’ve never driven drunk are those who either don’t drive, or don’t drink. I’ve never had a drinking problem, but imbibing to excess was a semi-regular thing for me in my 20s-40s – like it is for a lot of people. How I never got busted for being over the limit is a miracle, or just dumb luck. Either way, my drinking and driving days are in the rear view mirror.)
I haven’t owned a car in three years. Don’t anticipate ever buying another one. These days, I walk or LYFT it everywhere. Work is 2.4 miles from my house and I spend between $100-$200/month on LYFT rides. Even with that, The Food Gal® calculates a savings over around $6,000/year over what a car was costing us. Do I bank those savings? Hell no. (Remember: I’m the guy who used to chop lines of drugs on his dashboard. I may have grown up, but I’m still a sybarite at heart.) These days, I use the money to buy wine and plane tickets to Europe — much more fun and less overall aggravation…not to mention paranoia.
Do I miss having a huge, planet-killing hulk of a machine taking up space in a garage for 90% of its life? Sometimes. Cars are convenience; cars are freedom, whether for a jaunt to the store, or cheating on your spouse. But they’re expensive, time consuming and wasteful, and our planet can no longer afford them.
Cars can also be beautiful feats of engineering. But most of all, cars are fun, to drive, and..ahem…to do other things in.
But they’re also ecological nightmares, so it’s time we figured out another way to get where we’re going — whether it’s getting to work, getting the groceries, or getting your rocks off.
Take us home, Lou:
I have evolved.
I am no longer the avid food lover that I was in 1977 when I started consuming Julia Child and James Beard cookbooks wholesale.
I am not the insatiable gourmand I was from 1981-1990 when I ate my way through Southern California, Chicago, and New York City at every opportunity.
And no longer am I the intrepid gastronome of 1994-2012, when I considered it my sacred duty to dutifully report on everything and anything happening in the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene.
Things have changed and I have changed.
The Las Vegas Strip is no longer the revolutionary force is was from 1995-2010 — when it single-handedly invented the idea of the modern day, globe-trotting “celebrity chef” by giving burgeoning brands like Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Jean-George Vongerichten, Joël Robuchon and Michael Mina a platform to rake in mountains of cash while expanding their businesses.
I am no longer fascinated by every new opening, nor am I enthralled (as I used to be) by whatever menu delights were being trotted out by Hubert Keller, Scott Conant or Mario Batali.
And as much as I love my frogs and my frog ponds, the seasonal changes at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, Restaurant Guy Savoy, Joël Robuchon and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon are met with more of a yawn these days than a hip-hip-hooray.
(These days, I pop in about once a year just to re-affirm what I already know: that our top flight French remain some of the finest restaurants in the world.)
Restaurants, I’ve come to conclude, are a lot like lovers. Remember the tingle of excitement that always precedes your first time with someone? The sense of exploration? The desire to consume them wholesale? It’s that anticipation and the unknown that makes them so fascinating. You’re anxious; they’re anxious; everyone’s anxious and no one knows what to expect. That’s why it’s so much fucking fun!
Or can be. New sex with someone can also be a disaster…especially when one side doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain. (For those in need of a primer on the subject, there are only two things you need to have great sex with someone: gratitude and enthusiasm.)
Or maybe you just lose interest much too quickly, or the whole thing was a gigantic let down. That happens a lot too.
The point is, going to a new restaurant, like getting newly naked with someone, is exciting because of the unknown. Once you become familiar with each other, you can still enjoy yourselves, but you do so in a deeper, more relaxed sort of way. And no matter how good you are at the process (and how much you love each other), sometimes, one of you can get bored.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think I’m tired of fucking the restaurants of Las Vegas.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love them. But it does mean I don’t get a woody at the thought of diving deep (or sticking my tongue) into the damp, juicy folds of their flesh anymore.
Even worse, it seems I’ve become immune to foreplay.
Flash your cleavage at me (in the form of fancy decor as décolletage) and nothing happens. Tongue my ear and you’ll get a ho-hum.
Give me a hummer of a hamburger and I’m hard-pressed to press the flesh.
Cheap and easy (comps/free food) doesn’t work on me anymore either (as if they ever did), and neither does mysterious and exclusive. (There may be some nimrods out there who are impressed by what fellow nimrods Bourdain and Chang have to say, but yours truly got over listening to the boring drivel of inarticulate chefs many years ago. And when I see a press release trumpeting some “exclusive” event with Chef Morimoto, I just scoff.)
Drugs don’t work either. Ply me with grower champagne or grand cru Burgundy and Mr. Happy remains as limp as a wet biscuit. Titillate my taste buds with truffles and my mood remains tepid.
I used to think of foie gras as the fellatio of fine food — something it would be impossible to forgo. Now I wave it off like a weary sultan dismissing the nubile delights of his harem.
Could anything be more concupiscent than caviar? One would think. But after consuming copious amounts of it, I have become immune to its charms.
Szechuan I used to consider salaciously salubrious; now I think of it as so-so.
Korean used to captivate; dim sum used to delight; now I deign them both barely desirable.
20,000 restaurant meals over 40 years in 16 different countries will do that to you.
Is there a cure?
Yes and no.
Some things there is no going back to.
The whole “celebrity chef” thing is so played-out that I’m callous to whatever they’re selling. It would be hard for me to ever getting excited again about someone’s 38th restaurant, or whatever concept Caesars Palace wants to slap Gordon Ramsay’s name on. The Giadas and Fieris of the world are exploiting their brand, and that’s it. They barely give a shit about the food, and their credulous public barely does either. Like a low-rent stripper shilling for a lap dance, the product doesn’t have to be great, it simply has to be is good enough to separate you from your cash.
It’s sad for me in a way, because I remember the excitement of 1998-2009, when so many “name” chefs opened their stores here and turned our humble burg from The Town That Taste Forgot into a world-class dining destination. But those days are long gone, and now our legacy has devolved into being the launching pad (or just another venue) for corporate brands (hello Slanted Door!), not the incubator of big deal dining.
Soooo, as with middle-aged sex, I’m going to pick my spots. With no longer the interest nor the energy for marathon orgies of eating. At this point, I won’t be looking for comfort every night of the week. Instead, I’ll be looking for meaningful experiences with worthwhile consorts, not the promiscuous joys of conquest through conspicuous consumption.
Proving what a stud you are is a young man’s game. The rampant devouring of the pleasures of the flesh is a lot of fun when you have the time, the curiosity and the energy.
Like all young men, quantity used to trump quality, which is okay when you’re 20, or 30, or 40. Then, it’s all about ego and belt-notching. What’s important in your youth is whether you scored, whether you can say you’ve been there. (When I see Instagrammers clamoring to be the first to post about whatever shiny new object is plated before them, I see myself twenty years ago.) But those delights are ephemeral, fleeting, and ultimately self-defeating. Now, as an experienced epicure I know just what I’m looking for, and it takes a lot more than a pretty face and a pair of tits to keep me interested.
What you seek as an older man — in sex and food — is substance and style. Combine them both and you have my attention.
Show me some real passion, some creativity, and some actual interest, and I’m yours for life.
(Secretly, she’d rather be plowing instead of getting plowed)
ELV note: File this under “Only In Nevada.” The following showed up in our in-box today, and is a head-scratcher to say the least. Because even though we have nothing against plowing the fertile fields of womanhood at Sheri’s Ranch, we think a hoedown of this sort might get distracted by the blowing of stiff winds and turgid plantings that ripely breed in the luscious fecundity of mother nature’s bosom.
Not only that, but since when did whores get into agriculture?
Read it and weep:
Sheri’s Ranch announces a joint venture with Commissioner Dan Schinhofen of Nye County
(Pahrump, Nevada / September 12, 2016) – Las Vegas’ closest legal brothel and resort, Sheri’s Ranch and Commissioner Dan Schinhofen of Nye County are working together to develop 100 acres of existing land owned by Sheri’s Ranch for a non-profit community agricultural farm over the next several years.
The initial project will include a 20-acre area of land for a vegetable garden. Mr. Schinhofen stated that “all sale proceeds or crops themselves will go to benefit the homeless people, veterans and seniors of Pahrump.” Sheri’s Ranch is providing the land, water, security and the initial funds to insure the success of this joint project. Also, Civil Wise Engineering, located in Pahrump is donating its time and labor to provide civil engineering plans for the project.
“Commissioner Schinhofen has spent his free time arranging the equipment and volunteers to get the grading started,” said Sheri’s Ranch owner Chuck Lee, former Chicago detective. “We are pleased with the Commissioner’s plan to help the community and his pledge to continue to support this ongoing project,” Mr. Lee adds.
Future plans will consist of a 20-acre fruit tree orchard; a 10-acre fish pond for commercial sale and 50 acres for growing alfalfa. All revenue for this project will go to support the lower income residential community of Pahrump. Local residents and area businesses in Nye County have volunteered their time to handle all the crops, revenue and disbursement.
To support this project, “Sheri’s Ranch is currently installing a 5,000 gallon water tank for the initial phase of the project” Mr. Lee stated. “This project is a truly homegrown, community-driven endeavor that we can’t wait to see come to fruition” he added.
ABOUT SHERI’S RANCH
Located in Pahrump, Nevada, sixty miles west of Las Vegas, Sheri’s Ranch is Nevada’s first and only full-service legal sex resort. The Ranch was purchased by former Chicago homicide detective Chuck Lee in 2001 and was remodeled into a fantasyland of bungalows and specialty rooms with a variety of titillating themes. With a hotel and restaurant on the property, Lee and his exemplary staff have taken great care to maintain a resort playground with the clients’ safety, privacy, and satisfaction in mind.
The mind reels.