Big giant head


In Other News

Got some mail back on the Pink's piece the other day. It seems one of the executives of the Pacific Theaters chain reads my journal -- or at least read that entry -- and was taken a bit aback by what I had to say. He said it was painful to read and he wants to hear more of my concerns and how they can better meet my expectations from their theaters and Pink's.

I'd always had in the back of my mind the hope/fear/possibility that these pages would attract a suit's interest some day, but I was thinking more along the lines of one from the other end of the entertainment pipeline. But oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

So. What to do now that I've got a big fish's ear? Should I push for lower ticket prices? Fresh popcorn? Strip shows between shows? A ban on showing Adam Sandler movies? I must be careful here lest the power go to my head.

While I weigh my responsibilities carefully, I think I'll open the floor to you, Gentle Reader. Is there anything you'd like me to pass along with my own concerns? Lemme know...

Beth's column got a letter, too, by the way, from someone lamenting that she was married because otherwise "we could have sex and stuff."

Beth's comment to me: "This is the caliber of your regular reader. Nice."

Eat your heart out, guys. And stuff.


Wednesday - April 28, 1999

Tonight you folks get a pity entry. I don't really have anything to say, but I'm waiting for Outlook 98 to finish downloading (It's for work. Don't for a moment think that I actually use this piece of crap.) and updating on my computer and since it's one of those Microsoft "Stand back while we take over your computer" deals, I'm afraid to leave it unattended lest the Spawn of Bill do something completely out of hand, like install IE 5 and make it the default browser. And wasn't that a long sentence? Anyway, since I'm stuck here anyway I'm going to write this entry and since it ought to be about something, I guess it'll be about all the cars I've owned.

If I got one thing from my old man (And if I did it's the only thing, since he's tall and thin with a full head of hair and I'm, well, not), I got his flirtatious way with cars. As far back as I can remember we always had several cars lounging around the house. Not the trailer-trash cars, thank you, no, all ours were washed and waxed and running. Dad always had at least two, and at least one was usually a Connie -- a Lincoln Continental. He's nuts for those things, I guess. The other was oftentimes a Caddie. Then there was my Mom's car, usually a station wagon, and that made three at the minimum. Sometimes more, but always at least three.

Why? Who knows. It's not like we needed them. My dad's a dental technician (translation: he makes dentures) and we lived in rural areas back in my childhood, so it's not like we were rich or keeping up with the Joneses. There were only four kids, so it's not like we needed the extra passenger room. My dad just liked cars is all, and especially Connies. He'd buy one, drive it for a year or three, then trade it in on another one. Or maybe he'd drive the other car until he traded that in. Whatever, we were a 12-wheeler houshold, minimum.

So when I reached the legal driving age (I specify "legal" because like any self-respecting farmboy I've been driving since I could reach the wheel.) I started racking up cars like Daddy did. I branched out a bit and threw a few motorcycles into the mix, and I also improvised on his scheme by naming some of my vehicles. So here, without further ado, is a list of all the cars (and motorcycles) I've loved before. Perhaps in a future entry I'll list all the women. (Their mothers named them for me.)

  • Ashtray. My first car, a white Astra, Pontiac's clone of the Chevy Vega. My dad gave it to me in my senior year of high school and I proceeded to drive it into the ground. Last seen at the side of the Antelope Valley Freeway near Magic Mountain, where I abandoned it because it had blown a piston right through the hood. Lest you think I'm too irresponsible for just leaving it there, I should probably mention that I was really stoned at the time. Hmm… Somehow, I don't think revealing that helped my cause.

  • The SS Friendship, so named because every woman I dated in that car said she just wanted to be friends. My frat brothers called me Captain Blueballs. She was a blue '59 Chevy El Camino. Now that was a cool car. Another dad donation, it had huge fins in back, headers running underneath the doors, and an 8-track tape player in the cab with which I used to blast Willie Nelson's Greatest Hits. (Hey, I told you I came from a hick background.) I was working as a security guard at a drive-in theater at this point, and the truck figured prominently in my duties. I tossed an old mattress in the back, parked it by the theater's side entrance, and would lounge there catching kids trying to sneak in with beer. If I was nice I'd charge them one beer per sixpack to bring the stuff in, if I was mean I'd confiscate it all. Then I'd lay back and watch the movies and get comfortably drunk.

  • Weeble. A Suzuki GS450L motorcycle, so named because I kept dumping the damned thing, as in "Weeble wobbles, then it falls down." The best example of this was the time I pulled up to the frat house and applied the handbrake to stop just as I rolled onto an extension cord leading to the TV we'd set up in the parking lot. The cord rolled as the braked front wheel hit it and over I went. I did this in front of a crowd and despite my smooth recovery - I did a shoulder roll and sprang to my feet in one motion, announcing "Honey, I'm home!" - I felt like a complete idiot. I'm pretty good on a motorcycle, but that stupid bike just didn't want to stay up.

  • Armadillo aka Armored Dildo. A white '65 Mustang. My most vivid memory of it is losing the hood on the way to the hospital to see my girlfriend whose VW had just been hit by a cement mixer. The hood flew open, snapped off the hinges, and somersaulted overhead to land on the street behind me. I was in too much of a hurry to stop, so I left it where it lay. I ended up selling it one hungover morning to a salvage yard for far, far less than it was worth when it all it really needed was a new water pump. Such are the wages of gin.

  • The no name motorycle. A red Honda Hawk 400. I don't think I had this bike long and I have no idea what happened to it. I owned it during the depths of my alcoholism, so memory of these days is dim. I think I was on this bike the night my pal Mike and I went speeding through the Chatsworth reservoir area, drunk, at night. We went through an S turn that I thought just went left. I ended up rocketing off the road at Turn 2 and being launched probably twenty yards through the air. I landed on my back in a bush and thought it was the funniest thing ever. Mike thought I was dead. This bike was where I really started creeping into Dadland, because I still had the Dildo when I got the bike, and still had both when I bought…

  • A Honda Accord. I killed this car, nearly killed myself with it, in my last DUI of a not so distinguished drinking career. I've told this story before, but briefly: Driving home drunk one night, I spun out on in Burbank on the Golden State Freeway, bounced off the walls on either side of the freeway and sideswiped another car. Only the Honda was injured and I'm damn lucky the car was the only thing killed.

  • Spend A Buck. A Honda CB 750 F motorycle. Named after that year's Kentucky Derby winner because it was always breaking down. That bike was in the shop every time I turned around. Despite that, this was my favorite bike of all and I sometimes toy with the idea of getting another one. Fast, powerful, nimble. It was no Ninja 1000, sure, but it was a lot of fun anyway. Best memory on this bike: Doing a speed run to the beach through Topanga Canyon at about 5 a.m. Throwing it through the turns, scraping the footpegs, I don't think I've ever ridden as well as I did that night. From Ventura Blvd to PCH in something like eight minutes, which, if you know the area, you know is just insane. Man, that was fun. Stupid, but fun.

  • A no name Chevy Caprice Classic. I was wheel-less after killing the Accord and needed a car because, as the song says, nobody walks in L.A. I bought it from my boss' son for $200 and it served me well for about a year until it died. The wiring was always iffy on this thing and as I was pulling off the freeway one day there was a short under the hood and the engine caught fire. I put it out and took a bus the rest of the way, leaving the car to be impounded. I last saw it at the impound yard, where I signed the pink slip away to cover the towing and impound costs. Best $200 I ever spent.

  • A bergundy Audi 5000S. This car was a pile of crap, but I loved it anyway because it had a sunroof. Best memory of this car: Heading west on the Santa Monica Freeway on a summer night, sunroof open, my favorite song on the radio. I had a sudden epiphany, where it hit me that all was right in my world, it was a beautiful night, and I was (oddly for me in those days) content and happy. I knew it wouldn't last - it didn't - but I knew I'd always remember the moment.

  • Killisaki. A Kawasaki 650 that almost killed both me and my brother in separate accidents. In mine, I was heading home from work as I pulled onto the Hollywood Freeway - with my helmet strapped to the seat in defiance of the helmet laws. I remember picking my spot to merge into traffic - I was going to shoot two lanes over, cutting between two cars on the way - and then I woke up in agony in the hospital the next day. I'd gone down, bounced my head off the pavement, severely bruised my left hip, and hamburgerized my left shoulder. (I still bear scars on head, hip and shoulder.) The agony was from my shoulder wound tearing open again when I sat up and pulled it free from the sheet. Amazingly, I had no serious injuries. I gave the bike to my brother, who then had his own accident on the way home from his job. He was pushed into the car in front of him and went through its rear window. Again, amazingly, no serious injuries.

  • Magnet. My first new car, a black Nissan Sentra. So named because it was a magnet for bad things. It was broken into four times, twice for the radio, once for the speakers, and once for my custom pool cue in the trunk. It was stolen once. It was sideswiped in a parking lot once. My ski rack was stolen, ripped from its roof. Countless grocery carts careened into it. That car was a magnet for the ills of the world. The best thing it ever did for me was to bring Zoe home from the hospital when she was born.

  • Fifi. A Fiat 124. Named by Beth, this was a fixer-upper that never really got fixed. I had fun driving around one summer with Beth with the top down, but I eventually got rid of it. The parking situation at our apartment was nightmarish and I quickly got tired of running back and forth on street sweeping mornings, moving three cars (Magnet, Fifi, and Beth's Z-car) from one side of the street to the other.

  • And finally, my Cruiser. No name as yet, probably no name ever. I bought it from a used car lot and managed to talk the price down nearly 25%. Since then I've been approached in parking lots and at stoplights - and once by a knock at the front door -- several times by people wanting to buy it for far more than I paid. But I love my truck, so I don't think I'll be selling it anytime soon.

So that's the inventory of my rolling stock. Thrilling, eh, whot?


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins