The Buick and the Whale Tail Mustang 5.0 - April, 2007

A clear and dry night coming up Highway 18 East Bound

It was after 10PM on a Saturday night and Band On The Run was playing through the iPod (yeah, remember those). Already shaking in rain the Riv has already bombed up the hill as only drivers who give into their impulse to get up the hill give into. 

By time the Highway 18/I-5 interchange had come up, I thought the adrenaline would have burned off but thanks to a late 80’s 5.0L Mustang (White) heard cackling and merging – and pulling hard exiting the off ramp to Highway 18 the fuse, apparently, was re-lit. 

It was irresistible and in an instant the torque-y Buick downshifted from 1600RPM and 65MPH to 3rd gear out of Overdrive. From a roll the Buick easily walked the Mustang and he took it as a personal affront, as well he should have. 

 
3.8L Gen II Huffer

The next light was too busy and both street racers knew it so we rolled a few blocks.

Finally, after having enough time to disable traction control for the coming launch, our cars rolled to a stop. 

I pre-loaded the transmission and got the supercharger into producing some boost as the light was about to turn. The Mustang turns out to be a manual transmission as I can hear the slight bog at the light. We launched hard, the Riv’s torque spinning the tires off the line and grabbing quickly thanks to the dry street. 

After the light there was a downhill bank. The cars are evenly matched handling wise, but the heavy throttle through the turn had both cars asking everything of their tires. Traffic loomed up ahead in my lane so I backed off the throttle, not wishing to ask anymore of the hot tires on my car. The Mustang was behind me a half-car length at least and this easing off gave him an opening to jump in front.The next light ahead had four cars in each lane so we both shut down. 

Always liked the lines of the Riviera
To stop at the light, even though I was light on the brakes, the ABS kicked in a bit. I guess slowing down from 70 even in dry might have some uneven wheel spin. The best thing about this ending was the thumb up from the Mustang driver. The second best thing was as we shut down and coasted, loping down the street, we passed two of Federal Way’s finest watching the streets on a Saturday night. My guilty conscience assumed they were waiting for us… but no. I guess the Rivira is pretty quiet.


Maybe they thought I was driving an old man’s car.

Shame - Fall 1992

Sorry it has been awhile since I've posted, life has gotten pretty busy these last two months.

Today I bring you a story of shame. Believe it or not, kids do stupid things often. This little story is one of those times.

An acquaintance wanted to show me his Camaro so four of us piled into his white 1977. It was a 350, automatic. And so we headed out towards the highway for some evening cruising.
This is not the exact car, but you get the idea

Now, like I said, we were just teenagers and being goofy. What I'm about to relate to you should never be reenacted because today some kook would shoot you.

As we were cruising out on Interstate 5 North towards Seattle, it was past dusk and well into night. The radio is going, we're talking cars and then one of my friends in the back seat found a survival knife at his feet.

Being the kids we were, of course we had to flash it at drivers - in jest of course. Of course someone in another vehicle doesn't hear the laughter or pick up on the goofiness that is going on in our car. The car we were passing had a woman in the car and she took a look at the knife and calmly dipped into her purse.

You've heard the witticism, "don't bring a knife to a gunfight?"

Well, I've lived this witticism and, yeah, don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

Silhouetted against the headlights of other cars on the road, the woman pulled what looked to me as a .38 revolver. What isn't in dispute is that it was a hand gun! As if we had been in tangles with guns before, we all ducked (like it would help) including the driver!
Kinda like this

As the driver ducked his arm kicked the shifter out of drive into neutral! So all his flooring of the throttle was doing nothing for a few seconds until I kicked it back into drive.

The woman had to be laughing now. We laughed - but it was a bunch of nervous laughter knowing that we just had a valuable lesson in driving etiquette. Namely, no need to get aggressive with other random drivers.

So, kids, this is a lesson of what not to do. 

I'm happy to be your mentor for driving scenarios and you can take this one to heart.

You Can't Fly Underground, 1990

If I titled this story what it should be titled it would give away the punchline so, since my life is an open book, I just wanted to be straightforward with you on that one.

As you know my best friend and I both owned fire breathing Pony Cars in high school. We'd take turns driving to school as while 8 cylinders are just right for a fast car, 16 is too many to just drive to school and work so we economized.

Another friend that lived close somehow ended up part of this deal so we had three cars at our disposal so it made no sense to do anything other than accept another 4 cylinders into our carpool.

I cannot recall if his parents bought the car for him or if he was able to just drive it whenever he wanted but, I think, his parents bought him a new 1990 Nissan Sentra. I am pretty sure Sentra means "square face and ass" in Japanese but I don't know Japanese so I can't bet more than $1 on it.

This is not my friends Nissan Sentra, it is a representation. Stop looking at pictures and read.

Well, today was the Nissan's duty to drive us four sophomores to school. Oh, and if you're asking how I know this particular Nissan Sentra is not said Nissan Sentra, it is because said Nissan Sentra is either rusted out, has mildew problems or has enough electrical problems to have driven whoever owned it next insane.

How do I know this?

I know it because I was in the passenger seat. On this day in the Greater Seattle Area it rained above average. Which means it rained "a lot". Plus, kids, todays drive to school took a diversion down a road that we never really drove down. It was a residential area and to this day I cannot remember why we diverted down it.

Picture a long, straight residential road, no speed bumps and oh about 1/4 mile of distance in a 25MPH zone. As my particular friend that was driving was not all that daring a kid (read: more mature than myself) we were doing 25MPH. When what to our wondering eyes did appear but a little bit of water running over the roadway.

As the intrepid Nissan rolled over this water, it became instantly apparent that this road was not "perfectly flat". Soon the water was ½ way up the tires and wheels. We pressed on, a steady 25MPH as our attention turned more and more to what was ahead of us.. in a matter of seconds the Sentra had a bow wave

The not-so-mighty engine started having trouble holding speed and soon the water was over the nose of the hood.. this ship was in peril. My friend in the backseat and I yelled, simultaneously, "FLOOR IT!" and, "DON'T STOP!"

Accelerator to the floor, the Nissans brand new windows, and I'll never forget this, were very clean. I could see a good 3" under water through the side window of this car, if the Sentra were a convertible I'd be up to my nose in rainwater! The car was slowing but we were still moving... if there were fish in this "puddle" I'd have seen them, the windshield and in fact, all the windows were 3" under water!

This was as deep as we got - but knowing that if we stopped now, right here, it'd be catastrophic to not just our morning but to the car. I'm unsure if we could have even gotten the door open.

The car sputtered down to less than 10MPH under full throttle (and we never became afloat as far as I know). The wheels kept turning and the water visible through the window started to recede as if a drain had been unplugged from the street. It wasn't, of course, we just happened to make it to the other side of the pond.

We laughed knowing that we dodged a bullet, as Ralphie in A Christmas Story states: We kids know it is always better to not get caught.

Our friends only comment on this, other than extreme laughter echoing through the cabin of the Sentra was, "don't tell my dad, he'll never let me drive again."

So we never told anyone.

The Low Odds, High Desirability Event (Cars & Girls)

Hello, lovers. It is time to get back on the horse, or should I say horseshittery?

This story comes to us from the great state of Washington in the summer of 1990. If you've followed this blog so far you know that this is basically a blog revolving around funny or stupid things I did as a kid. So here we go.

I was 17 years old in 1990. In that year people in cars actually drove them rather than pretending to not look down at their own crotches while looking at their cell phones. By the way people, we CAN see you looking down at your phone even when you're tiring to make it look like your head is looking out the window - but that is another rant for another day.

My F-body Chevrolet (That is a Camaro to you) was never going to be complete without a CB radio in it. So, as a 17 year old in high school, working 40 hours a week and pulling 3.7GPAs I figured dropping $50 on a Uniden 510XL CB from Costco was more than a fair weekend joy. It turns out radio would be a life love of mine - and that I'd find out that looking for love on a CB radio was "all the wrong places."


The "Yellojacket" as my friends called my car.
My 1975 Camaro Rally Sport was one of 1500 Chevrolet made that year. Of course, I wrecked it because it was my first car and I was a boy. I didn't find out that the car was limited numbers until 20 years later when the Internet allowed looking up such banal facts.

Anyway, I think I prepared my whole life just for the day I could drive. I kept close attention to every single place we drove from childhood until that day Washington State handed me my permit.

I could attention seek and post pictures of all these treasured artifacts but you're here to READ so you only get one photo, kid.


Oh, the girl?

Yes, I was driving home from my grandparents place in on the Skagit River up in (heh) Skagit County back home to Renton. The South Skagit Highway is a Washington State best drive. (I almost hate to divulge this because I'm starting to not give up all my "best drives in Washington" for fear they will no longer be "best drives" but full of Subaru Drivers driving 5MPH below on the twisties, causing me to pull over for 20 minutes in order to hope they either drive over the bank into the river or give them time to get off the highway so I may do it properly).

The "low odds" event mentioned in my title is that on this day another Camaro was on South Skagit. It was not driving slow, it was the same generation as mine and it was RED. South Skagit is a two lane road with one in each direction. There are only a few passing points no matter how fast your car is or how masterful a wheel person you are. So, when doing 70MPH and I came up on the tail of this red Camaro, I was more intrigued than frustrated. A fellow petrol head!


This is not the car, you illiterate fool, we didn't have camera phones back then.
As Def Leppard played on my stereo, I slid into 4th gear and kept a "safe and sane" distance from this car and started to take it all in. The red looked original, less masculine (or asinine) than mine did. The person driving it had longish hair... and I kid you not, it had a CB antenna on the trunk. The spirited driving I had been doing up until now was nothing compared the way my heartbeat picked up. I'm not sure if it was just the hope I had to engage in some fun or if I truly expected anyone to actually engage in any fun with me.

I had been driving and riding the South Skagit for ALL of my 17 years and I knew every twist and turn. Which straight away could handle 140MPH and which ones you just motor on through at 35. I knew a left hander was coming up that rolled out into at least a one mile or more straight away that crossed one creek with a small bridge. As the corner loomed, I blipped the throttle of the V8, matching revs and downshifted into 3rd. When she had completed the turn and I was at the apex and could see no oncoming cars, I put the spurs to her. The M-22 transmission whined and the ker-chunk of the four barrel carburetor happened in quick succession. 

My Camaro not so much passed her, but leapt aside her where I peddled the car at 4,000RPM in 3rd to hold station. She looked over and all I did was hold up the microphone of my CB and dangle it so she could "get the message".. and all of this in the blink of an eye, she held up 7 fingers, not just the one finger I was expecting. I finished off 3rd and the pass and banged home 4th gear. The Coconut Little Tree™ hanging from my rear view mirror, heretofore rocking back and forth like a metronome during the maneuver, returned to its normal place. 

With my heart pounding, I dialed in channel 7 on the CB and then.... there she was! We were almost in the same car! For the next 45 minutes from the South Skagit Highway to down Interstate 5 we chatted as if we were having coffee except we were talking about cars, our favorite bands and whether we should stop and meet.

Before the exit was coming up I was already having separation anxiety. I was wary of stopping and she definitely had to be more wary, even as two Camaro owners - of the kid with the mullet and deadly good looks. I was just naive enough to think that "this has happened once now, it shall happen again".

At the exit we waved and laughed and I merged off onto Interstate 405. We kept talking until we were out of range - which was another 10 or more minutes and then our disembodied voices faded off into the ether. 

I never saw that Camaro or person again - and I still wonder where the heck she was driving from and where the heck she was going.

Here's to you, missy! You had reinforced a hopeful young mans belief in romanticism in the most perfect way it could have possibly been conveyed that day.

The Great Blimp Attack of 1994

Ah, my beloved Seattle Supersonics. I was a complete NBA head until the league decided that Oklahoma City(!?) of all places needed a team so bad that expansion just wouldn't work. They needed a team, in place, that they could steal from a city and plunk down in the great market that is OKC. Don't even argue with me that this was a premeditated attack and rip off of our team here, 1967-2008.. over 40 years of support and love.


Anyway, this short story is about one particular game in 1994. The very good Orlando Magic were visiting and the Sonics were playing in the Tacoma Dome. Why? Because Seattle was trying to placate yet another NBA bitch that our arena wasn't good enough. It was, but still we took a year to give them exactly what they wanted. 

The 1994 Orlando Magic were a powerhouse but the Sonics were also very good these mid 90s years. Orlando came packing Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway who were nearly as fun to watch as the Sonics duo of Gary "The Glove" Payton and Shawn "Reign Man" Kemp. Nearly - but not as fun. They were not as daring and dare I say just could not match the charisma that Payton/Kemp brought to the hardwood.

Anyway, the powerhouses met to do battle in 1994 and I remember the game well. I had season tickets this year and I brought my younger brother to the game. Leading up to it we knew it was going to be a great game but we had no idea about how fun the game was going to be.

The game was fun. It was intense. For some reason we held Shaq to 0 (zero) points and beat them quite handily. Perhaps it was a secret weapon to make millionaire basketball studs from Orlando play a game in Tacoma. This isn't a jab at Tacoma but I think even they would admit in March that they are no match for Orlando as a city. 

So, the Great Blimp Attack? Ah, yes, the game was interesting but what made this match unforgettable was that the blimp that flew around Sonics matches for years and dropped free tickets to upcoming matches ran into some trouble.
I still can't tell if it was taunting people or if there were "technical malfunctions" that allowed it to fly below the "hard deck" (a term we all learned as Generation Xers from the movie Top Gun). In my mind, I was thinking, if I wanted to take a shot at that blimp, now is when I'd strike. 

In a brief flash of what felt like psychokinesis, indeed, a drunken fan at the south end of the court saw his chance appear. Or, a chance at notoriety appeared to him. We will never know. In one hilarious move he chucked his large bucket of popcorn up at the blimp which destabilized it enough to send it into a porpoising motion as if it were riding an invisible teeter-totter. This alone caught the attention of... everyone.. but in particular the Sheriffs who were doing security at the game.

The man saw his work, and was clearly pleased with it. I'm not sure if he saw the police and security coming to beat his ass as he was kicked out of the venue but if he did - and kudos to him to stay focused on the attack - he picked up his beer. He took a swig, showing great elan, and after he was good with the swill he fox-one'd the beer delivering a staggering blow the beloved Sonics blimp. It kept losing altitude until it was behind the stands and after that I know not what happened to it. 

The man who decided to take out the blimp was "escorted" out of sight also. I'd like to think he was one of what seemed to be the 30% of people there wearing Orlando jerseys because, ya know, everyone liked Shaq but I was not so close as to see his garb.

My human failing (as well as just plain being a homer) says that if it were an Orlando Magic fan that did this I'm less okay with it than had it just been a bored Sonics fan who was so sick of winning this night that he was pretty much done with basketball.

To this day, if Clay Bennett and his crook partner David Stern were riding in a blimp over Seattle... I'd entertain thoughts of throwing a King Beer at them. They ripped my heart out, stealing our team, and in my mind it will never be made right.

Spring, 1993, Stone Temple Pilots Show

If you haven't heard of Stone Temple Pilots, that's fine. Just substitute STP for one of the hottest, sweatiest most packed live shows you have ever gone to and it'll all make sense, kids.

I'm not going to get into a debate about STP. I think there are two people: One who dig them and others who think they just aped Seattle Sound. Let's not argue that. Let's just say that if you're GenX you definitely rocked to Plush, Interstate Love Song, Sex Type thing... and many more tunes that are near and dear to my heart.

So, when STP came to the Mercer Arena in 1993, you bet your sweet ass I was gonna be at that Rawk Show! I'm a music snob but I couldn't wait to see frat boys who only knew two songs packed in and getting their lame asses rocked off just to hear Plush while they were high.

Well, turns out, it did't matter who you were that night. We all got our lame asses rocked. 

I had bought a brand new pair of Chuck Taylor high tops, the only size 13s in the city, just for the show. Chubby and Tubby on Rainier (like Sir-Mix-Alot but a rocker) for $24. I was ready to rock. The usual "Goddamned Rockers" piled into my 1979 Sleeper Camaro and cruised downtown to the Mercer Arena for just another night.

This is not the one shoe I had left. It is a representation.

It wasn't just another night. I'm not even sure who opened for STP because everyone was jockeying for front row to see the DeLeon Brothers and Scott Weiland. I was about 2 or 3 people deep and the lights went dark. At first it was quiet and then the crowd started to press. Scott steps to the mic with a megaphone in hand, into the microphone, with his inimitable voice says, "I aaaaaaaaam smelling like a rose......."


I aaaaaaaaaaam!


The lights pop on at the exact same time with red shining down on his red bleached hair and the place feels as if someone just vacuumed packed us all in this place and time to have wallets stolen, asses grabbed, nuts kicked, sweat swapped, and smiles and singing above all.

I am not a small guy, even at age 18. I swear to you, ½ way through the first song someone stepped (I'm sure purely on accident) on my right heel, removing my brand new right Chuck T. I immediately tried to go to ground but the pit was so packed, I was able to raise my knees to my chest! There I was suspended - lifted as if I were a 2 year old... an odd feeling for a "grown man".

Before I can even try to shimmy down the sweaty arms to my beloved, new Chuck T, I see what can only be MY Chuck T being thrown over our heads at the drummer. The person missed, and it sailed over his him. There goes $12! But it isn't just $12 because nobody is selling me one size 13 Chuck T high top. The meter is still running kids - I have my brother's Eddie Bauer watch to lose still - absolutely no idea where that one went... no idea which song, whether the first or last one.

Also, to win the Big Rock Show Trifecta, and only after the show was over and my beer soaked right sock (It was a Nike mid-cut with blue Swoosh™) and badly bruised heel, arch, toes and top of foot.... as I hopped out of Mercer Arena on my left foot - Seattle blessed us with its famed gentle downpour. 


Adam the Goddamned Rocker with my cold friend Mat

Picture Frogger but instead someone who still had to drive all his friends home in his $400 Camaro - which for some reason everyone envied but they never had to get their hands dirty. Denon pull out cranked the tunes, I added up my losses and our ears ringed all the way home. 

I did try to ask politely to get my shoe back after the encore... you can guess what the stage crew said to me.

And I was happy.

Seattle Summer, 1990, The Airport

Nothing good ever happens after 1 AM.

Well, that's a credo, if you can have a credo, I live by and is mostly true. At least by my measure. But this night, I recollect from age 17 in Renton, our clocks were probably pushed more to the two or three AM time line. So, I won't name whose idea this was, but we all agreed it had to be done so we are all culpable.

So we hit the road. At that time, driving from Renton to SeaTac Airport may as well have been Mexico. A few of us drove V8s, but regardless, from an "Iron Duke" 2.5L, to a minivan, to a V8 “Pony Car” lets say, gas, as always equaled money.

When you're 17, at least on Benson Hill, you stop playing hide and seek. Even at this age, the dawning of the Internet, better communications, and some boundaries that we could not see, didn't matter a hoot. We had CB radios that could reach out 5 miles, 50 miles 500 miles, 5000 miles. Communication between myself and my friends was not a problem in 1990.

So we decide the airport has to be played. I can't remember which people, how many cars, or the exact date but I do remember we paid for parking.

There's not much traffic after midnight even today. So, say, you were to hop in your car, drive to SeaTac Airport, park and walk inside and have free reign of the whole place you might make that drive today, just for fun!

Back then whether anyone harbored any ill will for my country or not, the airport was a safe place to be. Or so we felt.

Since 17-year-olds don't play hide and seek, we played "manhunt.”

Manhunt was “hide and seek". When you're 17 jacked up on energy, running with friends, and at a giant airport in Seattle, you go all out. Just a few memories are: Being exhausted, hysterical laughter, not being seen by any of the airport employees whether physically or on camera… and while running down one office space going into a giant board room and plucking an ice cold Coca-Cola out of the biggest iced container I've ever seen for pop. As far as I know taking a few cold Cokes from a meeting that was either done or soon to be happening was the only thing we did that could have been of consequence. Let’s call it 1:30AM.

We were just thirsty and it was there. I do recall being chased and chasing friends with so much space in between us, even with youthful speed, that when someone cut down another aisle, you were too far away to really tell whether it was the next one or the second from the next one.

I am serious: not even an "hey kids!” Nothing! For an hour, maybe two we took trams, we ran down concourses, went through offices (because we were either running away from or chasing someone), until we had all given up we're drinking down Coca-Cola's for free.

Well, they weren't exactly free. I think we may have paid 10 bucks each car to park there. I say we got the better end of the deal looking back. Hell, the parking may have even been free. In that case, karmically, I’m still ahead.

This is not a challenge to 17 year olds today, had there've been a TSA back then it's quite likely I’d have a minor Federal record. I've been caught speeding before, nobody is immune to the immutable laws of average. It's just that at that day, at that time and at that place, we owned it.

I'm pretty sure we raced our cars (and the "Speed Tax") all the way through the valley back to Benson Hill.

*Apologies for the typos, they're fixed. I imported this memory off a Commodore 64 and wanted the raw text at first. It is now... proper. - acs