Saturday, October 16, 2010

a new era begins; a new SUV and the battle of the logos.

click on any picture to make it larger
note: the only ones that are actually mine are the first one and the last one

So I got a new truck last week. The accident was two weeks ago Monday and it took me until last Thursday to get back on track. That's more than ten days. This involved the rainy Monday being a total disaster. Many many phone calls with insurance people. Trips to the auto shop to talk about repairing my truck. Then they told me the truck was a write off. So I had to start looking for a new truck. I had borrowed my friend's car, who was on tour in England, and I only had until Thursday when he returned.

I can't tell you how much I hate car shopping. Mainly because I don't know much about cars. I really only care about the color and the stereo. Because of my work I need something that can carry stuff around (photography equipment, DJ equipment, paint, ladders, other people's clutter, furniture to be repaired or refinished, etc).

I thought about buying a pickup, because you can carry more stuff. But then the back is open and you can't really store anything in there. And I would have to have a truck with an extended cab. I can't just throw my DJ equipment in the back of a pickup. So that’s getting big when I live in the slightly cramped area of silverlake and hollywood; I have to keep traffic and parking in mind.

I love(d) my Ford Explorer (SUV) and it seemed perfect for me and my needs. So I swung back to the SUV.

Several trips to car dealers. Wrenching. They all seem to be trying to take advantage of me (one) and of course are trying to make money. It's hardly a humanitarian venture, owning a used car lot. Every car I saw was "the best", at least according to the dealer of the moment. "Do you want me to go get the keys?" "(no, because the color is completely wrong and I don't even like the logo).

I have only ever really bought four cars in my life. Each time I felt like I had been put through the ringer and left out in the desert while they drained my bank account and rifled through my most private papers (ie bank accounts, tax records, etc).

My first car was a gift from my dad for my 16th birthday. It was a 1966 powder blue Ford Fairlane. It was only three years younger than me and my dad bought it off a local farmer for $250. The stereo I installed cost more than the car. But at this time, I was in 11th grade and going to an academic high school in the city, a 30 - 40 minute drive. Having my own car meant I could drive myself and I didn't have to rely on my mom to take me to school and back.

Which, looking back, was kind of a nice time and I miss that.

But having my own car (with a kick ass stereo) was awesome.

Most of my “friends” took advantage of me, asking for rides to concerts and anywhere else they wanted to go. Sometimes it annoyed me, but most of the time it was ok; even though I knew they were using me, it was kind of nice to be included, even if it was only as a chauffeur.

(Not a lot of self esteem in my family, as you can probably guess)

I also had a job, working at a record store, which was more a full time than a part time job, so I had a fair amount of money and access to very cheap records.

At one point I was in a minor fender bender, but being that my car was so old and somewhat fragile, it didn't take much. By this time I was in college and my dad again got me a car, it was a 1973 Mercury Montego GT, and while it was originally red, it had faded (as red used to do) and was kind of a dusty pale orange color. But it was very sporty (which didn't go with my personality at the time one bit). But it had a nice logo and more importantly it had an awesome sound system. The cassette deck had AUTO REVERSE and you could play a tape either way.

That sounds totally lame now, but at the time it was pretty cool. I also had an amp and a pre amp and I remember blasting Frankie Goes to Hollywood "Two Tribes" at unearthly levels. I was in heaven. God bless Trevor Horn.

I don't remember what happened to that car, but I moved to Toronto to continue my education and I assume my dad took the car back.

Several years later I was again living in Edmonton and needed a car. I bought a car off my friend's brother for I think $200. I don't even remember what kind it was, it was a total beater car and had no brakes (I'm not kidding). One day, in the winter as I recall, the drivers side floor fell out and that was that.

But by this time I had graduated college and was working as a computer graphics artist and had a pretty good job. I was also working part time in a record store. I can't remember how it happened, but I ended up buying a brand new 1988 Honda CRX, which I totally loved. I loved the hatchback. It was white, and brand new, and had a great stereo and an awesome logo. And, even more importantly, given that I was living in Edmonton in the winter, it had a great heater.

I was living with a guy I had known for several years, one of my semi friends, a friend of a friend, who hung out with us in Vancouver and did a lot of drugs while we went out dancing every night (they did the drugs, I did the dancing). I knew he was a bit sketchy, and he was still doing a lot of drugs, but we had fun.

One day when I got into my car, I noticed that the heater fan was on full. I never ever turned the fan on full, so it was a bit curious, but I never thought much of it. The a few days later I got into the car and there were pistachio shells on the floor of the drivers side. I had never eaten pistachios in my life.

I realized that my room mate was borrowing my car while I was asleep to go on 7-11 runs (I'm again giving him the benefit of the doubt). Without asking me! So I began taking my keys to bed with me. He still borrowed it sometimes during the day, with my permission, but one day he came home and he had been smoking in my car (ugh!) but worse, he had tossed his cigarette out the window while he was driving, and it flew back into the car and land on the back seat, burning a hole in the seat.

Which was there, of course, until the day I sold that car several years later. That was the end of him driving my car, and when I ended up getting a different place to live, without him, that was the end of our friendship. I don't recall that I've ever seen him since that day, which was 22 years ago,

With the Honda CRX I moved to Vancouver and then to Toronto, and then I moved to Los Angeles. I sold every thing I owned in Toronto, I shipped a few boxes of cds and records, and I drove across America in my CRX, from Toronto through Detroit, Memphis, Nashville, etc, stopping at the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas on the way.

I lived in LA for several years with that car, I ended up working at Tower Records and Rhino Records (at the same time) and was doing pretty well. I decided to buy this car that I had fallen in love with, it was a Mustang convertible, 1992 and only had 17,000 miles on it when I bought it from a used car dealer in Santa Monica. I can't tell you how much I loved that car, and I drove it until it literally fell apart.

It was to the point where the top didn't close any more, so it was permanently down. This is OK in the summer as it doesn't rain, but it was coming on fall, 2002, I was living in Silver Lake, and I was doing all right financially, so I decided that before it started to rain I had to buy a new car.

I had been looking at cars for several weeks and getting very frustrated, and concerned that it was going to rain and me stuck with a car with no roof. One Sunday, in fact it was the long weekend in September, I was on my way to the Pasadena Flea Market and I drove past the Ford dealer on Hill St, they were having a huge Labor Day sale, with balloons and everything short of a guy dressed in a chicken suit. I just stopped in to look, but I found a black Explorer Sport SUV that once I sat in I knew this was the car (truck) for me. I ended up buying it that day and driving it home.

And it served me well, up until last Monday when it was done in by a light sprinkling of rain while crossing the Hyperion bridge over the 5 freeway. (see previous blog for details and photos of the death of my SUV).

It's funny, you don't usually realize "this is the last time I will be doing this." Like "this is the last time I will see this person" or "this is the last time I will have sex with this person" or "this is the last time I will get in my truck and drive to the post office."

(Maybe sometimes you know when this might be the last time you have sex with someone.)

Sometimes you think, "this will be the last time I see this person." and it turns out not to be the case at all. Sometimes for better or worse.

The last time I saw my grandmother I thought it might be the last time I saw her (she had been very sick and was in the hospital). The last time I saw my Dad it never occurred to me that would be the last time I saw him (he died very suddenly). I said goodbye to my truck a few days ago, I took all my stuff out of it, it was very sadly smashed up and wouldn't start. But a week earlier when I had gone to the gym, and got in and drove across the bridge on my way to the post office and breakfast, I never thought, "this is the last time I will turn this ignition key."


The first place I visited was the Ford dealer in Glendale, because I sort of knew them, having gone there for several years for maintenance and repairs. I had also gone there a while back, when they had the "Cash for Clunkers" extravaganza. It turned out my truck qualified, and I was really on the market for a new one, but when I discovered that they were going to kill my truck (literally, they would pour a chemical in the engine so the truck would be scrap metal) I just didn't have the heart. Sure, the explorer had seen better days, they don't make trucks like they used to, and even though it was only a few years old, once the warranty expired, things started to fall apart (coincidence?). But it wasn't ready to be put down. Taken out back and injected chemicals that would kill it. I just couldn't do it...

I went to all the car dealers on Brand Blvd, in Glendale, the Auto Row. I looked at several trucks and had more or less decided I would get this Jeep Cherokee that I sort of had a crush on, and it was only $8500 (plus tax and licensing). I love the Jeep logo, and the truck was a silvery blue which I quite liked.

But I had this friend who owns a car dealership in Santa Monica. While I was literally worrying about my truck situation, he butt dialed me and my phone showed "Jeremy car dealer". I took it as a sign from the universe and, while I knew that he was mad at me (long story, but basically because I wasn't moving at the same speed he was moving at (ie lightning") so I texted him that I had totaled my truck and needed a new one asap. He texted me that he had a truck for me, for $3000.

Monday morning I drove out to Santa Monica to see the truck, but as soon as I saw it I knew it wasn't the one. First of all it was gold. and it had a padlock on the back. Jeremy suggested that I take the insurance money and buy this truck and have some left over. But when I told him it was important for me not to feel like I was dumbing myself down, he understood.

He got online, a special 'car dealers' sites and checked out the upcoming auctions. He ended up finding this SAAB 9-7X, which as soon as he clicked on it, he said, this is the truck for you! Even though it was significantly more than I had been planning on spending. He said, it you're going to pay $8500 for a 2002 Jeep Cherokee, which isn't worth that, you should pay a little more and get something really worthwhile. He called the dealer in Santa Ana (about an hour from my house) and negotiated a deal.

So the next day I somewhat reluctantly drove to Santa Ana, still more or less intending on buying the Jeep Cherokee, waiting patiently for me on a parking lot in Glendale, but I said I would check out the truck. While I was on the freeway, the Ford dealer called me to see if I could come in and I told him, I'm going to check out a truck in Santa Ana, and then I will come to you.

But once I got there, the truck really felt right. And of course it was much nicer (and newer) than the Jeep. It basically took the rest of my day to work out the details, but a deal was finally hammered out. the only hitch was that I had to wait for the check from the insurance company to come. I called them and they said it would be in my hand the next day. By now we are getting down to the wire, it's Wednesday and Phideaux arrives back from the UK on Thursday morning.

But the check arrived Wednesday around noon, as the insurance company had promised, I took it to the bank and I took Phideaux's car in for a tune up. My friend Colleen drove me out to Santa Ana and dropped me off, she said she would stop in Anaheim and visit her dad. So it all worked out.

When I arrived back in LA, I picked up Phideaux's car, took it to the car wash, filled it up with gas, took it back to his house, parking it in his garage, fed his cats and left the keys. Walked to where I had parked my new truck (next to the car repair shop) and promptly drive to Pasadena to see a movie (of course!). What else would I do in my new truck?

I do want to take a road trip to Las Vegas to see the Beatles Love show, which I have see a couple times already but it's the most amazing spectacle I've ever seen. (and it has a great logo!)

When I woke up this morning, my new truck was in my driveway, all shiny and clean. Waiting to chauffeur me into the next phase of my life. I feel like it's a little better than I deserve, or at least what I'm used to (it's by far the most expensive vehicle I've ever owned, or perhaps even been in) but I've decided that I will rise to match the level of my new truck.

Except for the logo, which I hate. It’s an eagle (?) with a worm in it’s mouth, on a navy blue background. Now, I’m an artist and I can appreciate all colors, but navy blue is the worst color ever. Once I had a BF and a year after we’d broken up and become friends again (not always easy, not always possible) he told me his favorite color was navy blue. I said, “you know, you could have saved us a lot of time if you’d only mentioned that in the beginning.”

The other lesson I think is to be grateful and live in the moment. Because you never know when this is the last time you will see that person or the last time you do this thing that you've done a hundred times. This just is, it's not necessarily a bad thing it can certainly be a good thing. I'm reminded of the saying,

"This Too Shall Pass."

©2010 Rod Reynolds RocketManLA.Com


  1. Hey Rod. Enjoyed the post. And the new truck (SUV) looks great. You deserve it. But the SAAB Eagle isn't an eagle. It's a combination of 2 emblems combined to form the head of a Griffen. And I think that's his firey tongue, not a worm! LOL You might ask your car cronies just how many of the "clunkers" were actually sent to the clunker graveyard whole. These vehicles were stripped of batteries, alternators, a/c compressors, transsmissions, running gear, stereos, guages & every manner of reusable parts. These parts were free money to all these dealers & the estimate of value is hard to determine. But you know it's in the 10's of Billions. Government parts. Hmmm...I think I've been in the wrong business! ;-))

  2. can't believe I just read all that. So your a girl?

  3. Hi Rod!
    I think your friend did you a big service steering you away from the Jeep & to the Saab. Saabs are great--plus the original company made airplanes, which is cool.
    It was good to meet you the other day (I picked up a beautiful garden pot & some kitchen stuff) and hope you can sell off that woman's stuff.

  4. Nice new suv. Glad you came out of that accident all intact. Your readers comments are as entertaining, informative, and quite often as kind as you are!

  5. Logos would still be logos. You can’t count on reliability by the name alone. You should at least test drive every car that you consider before you settle for one. Even though you found the one that caught your eyes, you’d never know what would fulfill your needs.