Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Castro Set to Go the Way of Whitewall Tires

An oddity from Reuters the other day: "Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro took his warning of impending nuclear war to Cuba's Foreign Ministry on Friday, where he explained the reasons for his dire prediction in his fifth public appearance in 10 days."

What do I think of when I read that? Senility. Also the other day, but not the same day, I saw the third-season episode of Mad Men called "Love Among the Ruins," in which Betty Draper's elderly father Gene is clearly losing his mind. At the sound of sirens late one night in early '60s Ossining, NY, he starts pouring Don's liquor down the drain, fearing a Prohibition-era raid by the cops.

A few weeks ago I saw a different relic of the past much closer at hand: an all-orange Camaro. Terrifically, insanely orange -- about the same shade as a traffic cone, except shiny bright. I'm not an expert on that car, but I'd guess it was a mid-70s vintage. The best detail: matching orange-wall tires. It then occurred to me that you don't see many whitewall tires any more, even the little stripes that tires used to have. What happened with that? Wasn't that supposed to be a big-deal luxury for reasons no one could explain? Maybe that's why they faded away.

Anyway, the amazingly orange car was in the next lane over, waiting for the same red light that I was. Orange or not, I also think of the Dead Milkmen when I think of Camaros. That association probably doesn't please Chevrolet very much, but so it goes. In the mid-80s WRVU used to play "Bitchin' Camaro" occasionally. One time the deejay prefaced it by saying that the song had inspired a lot of angry complaints for its gratuitous, and cavalier, mention of AIDS. Then again, if you don't manage to upset people, your song isn't very punk.

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