Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I'm cutting a show about the rise of SUVs for a popular cable network. I started work on the show very ambivalent* about the whole controversy (political, environment and social) surrounding them. Coming out the other end, I still don't know how I feel about SUVs in particular, instead I'm more conflicted about corporate responsibility.

According to the narrative we're advancing in the show, the first SUV was the Jeep Cherokee XJ in 1984. It was designed with two things in mind 1) To be a big, rugged Jeep-branded vehicle and 2) {very important} to be fuel economical. When design began, America was still coming out of the 1970's energy crisis, so the Cherokee was totally designed from scratch around a light weight car body.

It sells incredibly well. The Big Three automakers take notice and try to clone the vehicle as quickly as possible. How do they do this? Ford takes it's (big, heavy) pickup truck chassis and throws an SUV passenger cabin on top. Soon, all the Big Three (Ford, Chrysler and GM) all have SUVs based on pre-existing pickup trucks. Since there's little redesign and they can built in pre-existing truck factories, each SUV sold generates between $5000 - $10,000 in pure profit. (In fact, the infamous Hummer H2 is just an ugly ass, military looking body on top of a Chevy Tahoe chassis...and premium you pay for the Hummer brand {and that ugly yellow color} is $16,000 more than the Tahoe.) And because these truck chassises are heavy, the SUVs get horrible gas mileage.

So why all the automotive history? Well, the SUV saved Detroit. Seriously. The auto industry was not doing well at all before the SUV came along. Suddenly, though, it was boom time again. The question then is, after being saved from the brink of bankruptcy, how much responsibility do the automakers have to do the "right" thing? (For the sake of my argument, the "right" thing would be to consider fuel economy, environmental factors and social order and "force" responsible cars on us. They could still make SUVs {of course}, but make them so prohibitively expensive that they actually are the automotive equivalent of lighting a cigar with a $100 bill.)

But how much responsibility do the automakers have to force the public to swallow the vehicular version of Listerine? (And I mean original Listerine, not that nice new citrusy stuff.)

"Drive this smartCar, it'll be good for you."
"But I'm a scared white-surbanite/ scared rapper / scared yuppie...I want a tank!"

For a decade now Americans have shown a willingness to buy cars with lousy mileage, high pollution and (shockingly) inherent safety flaws. It's that classic "We have met the enemy and he is us" situation. Auto executives aren't going to greenlight cars with "features" (good mileage, environment concerns) that only Laurie David, Al Gore and their acolytes are going to buy (I'm talking about you -- you white, East Coast, university educated liberals, you!) It's simply not worth it.

So do I blame the automakers? No. I blame the SUV buyers. But SUVs and huge minivans make up over 50% of the car market. So I can't really blame them individually. They are part of a huge mass of society. And society has made isolationism, paranoia and elitism in our cars seem acceptable. Where those feeling come from, I don't know....but it certainly doesn't begin and end on the road. It's from somewhere far deeper in the American psyche.

* Although I'm personally embarrassed by my parents' gianormous Chevy Tahoe, it's mainly because it's so damn big and unnecessarily showy...not because of any political or environmental reasons. Beyond that, my thoughts were laissez-faire, anyone else {or thier parents, for that matter} can drive whatever they damn please.

In an amazing conflux of time and space

Somehow, for the first time ever, I've managed to not be working solidly and roughly through the summer. Hence, there's plenty to do (well, when I'm not at weddings, starring in Summer Share, or eating stuffed liquor burgers)-- who's up for some outsideness?

(+ old standbys -- GYC, Alma, Central Park rowing, Wonder Wheel and Botanic Garden)

I've been inside all winter! I'm ready to get sunburnt!

Monday, June 19, 2006


Good for all sorts of nefariousness, this webpage
creates a totally random new identity for you (if only you could get Mexican working papers with this info on it, you'd be set!)

My randomly generated new name?

Jefferson P. Mannino


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Raves of the Weekend (#1)

Hate to go all Daily Candy on your asses, but here we go:

1) Uniqlo. Yes, I actually bought some new clothes (!). I had expirienced Uniqlo when I went to Japan and was woefully unprepared for monsoon season. I stocked up on sweaters and jackets on the cheap. It saved my gaijin ass from freezing. But now, there's cheap-ass Japanese clothes in NYC in Soho. (Think H&M, but cheaper...and not H&M Eurotrash). Bri got the score of the weekend with her supahott "Eich Bin Ein Berliner" shirt ($10!).

2) Riggs and Forsythe Bitter Lemon soda. Yum. As you'll see below, this weekend was also all about simple beverages. This one is just Fizzy water, Lemon and Sugar. And when I say Lemon, I don't mean Country Time, I mean citrus with some serious punch. Refresco! (Dean & Deluca -- $2)

3) Snow Mint soda. Checked out 5th Ave's one sit-down dessert venue, The Chocolate Room (N.B. -- Yummy! Esp. if sit-down dessert venue is all you eat for dinner). I ordered a Izze soda float, and Bri had a chocolate mint float. The soda and mint portions of the dish came from Snow mint soda. Just like the Riggs and Forsythe, but replace Lemon with Mint and you have the idea. Even better. So good! According to the website, you can find it at Garden of Eden. I'll be making a pilgrimage to get a case. (The Chocolate Room - Snow Mint Chocolate Float -- $6)

4) Renegade Craft Fair. I supported plenty of Williamburg entrepreneurs and their greeting card/t-shirt/stuffed thing making ventures. Feels good to help the local economy (and, apparently, American Apparel) keep on chuggin'. (Prices vary...wildly...booth to booth)

5) And, of course, Bang Bang Kill Kill Machine Gun Camera. Best thing ever. (Cost Unknown)

Go forth, easily influenced consumers!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Early Wish List

Several good friends have birthdays coming up, which somehow ultimately just leads to me thinking about what _I_ need.

Luckily, today in Soho, I found it. The ultimate Geoffie need. The one item I must possess to be happy for the rest of my life (far eclipsing the Bang and Olfsen stereo which held that spot in the 8th grade.) It was in a junk store and I don't know how much it cost (because I'm an idiot and didn't ask)...but here it is:

It's a friggin' wind-up 35mm film camera in the shape of a machine gun! With Japanese shit written on it! GAWAHGAHAH!!!! (Clearly, words elude me.)

Someone -- please buy this for me. I have a space in my apartment all ready for it. And I would make me grin almost as stupidly as my FlipFlop.

(Pic stolen from this eBay auction.)

Monday, June 12, 2006


Finally, my little corner of the universe is getting the press it so richly deserves!

So, stop by sometime and see the robots...and me.

(NB -- The {above linked} Gowanus Lounge is one of my new daily blog stops. It's mission is to explore the "Disneyification of Manhattan and the Manhattanification of Brooklyn". Such a truism, I'm surprised no one devoted a blog to it until now.)

Are you a "real" adult?

Clearly, this is a topic on many people's minds. So many metrics, so little ways to actually know. (I have a job and a wife, but live with my mom....or, I have a cat and a car, but am hopelessly single...or I'm Ivy League educated and married, but only wear those moronic/ironic t-shirts they advertise on the Onion).

Finally, there's a concrete way to know your status:

Follow this link.

If you can hear the melodious sound, you are officially Not An Adult.

Long live youth! Explanation of what you are hearing (or not hearing, as the case may be) lives here.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Degenerate Updata

Amount Bet on the Belmont Stakes: $100.00

Amount won: $0

(Don't cry for me Argentina {not that you would anyways}, but I'm up $190 after visiting my Native American friends in I'm freerolling. But, after the $2 trifecta bet at the Kentucky Derby paid $5709, playing the ponies was impossible to resist!)