7 Replies to “Traffic, Splained”

  1. My solution: live close to work in a city where not that many people want to live.

    People love cars for the feeling of freedom, but you’re hardly free if you spend all your time stuck in traffic. Still, I think many people might choose a crowded interstate over a crowded train. Why? Because automobiles are fantasy objects as much as transportation tools. Why, for example, does a CPA need an all-terrain assault vehicle? Do manly adventures lie waiting between McMansion and office park? Wouldn’t truck fetishists (seemingly 90% of American males) drive trucks even if they never haul anything more than a new giant TV or their wives’ flower pots? I know Jeep drivers who never go off road. For some, cars say more about who their drivers wish they were than who they are.

    I’m no better. My main vehicle is practical, but I have a roadster as an extra car. When driving it, I’m no longer Renfield of Memphis, but Marcello Mastroianni tooling around Milan. But who’s that in the passenger seat? Brigitte Bardot? Jane Birkin? Nastassja Kinski? Depends on what day, Bastards.

  2. I lived in NYC without a car for 10+ years. Only occasionally wanted one. But parking, insurance, etc were happily avoided.
    It’s an incredible city for walking. Subways and buses were dependable. Great place to live if you’re obscenely wealthy.

    I don’t mind my li’l commute now, as podcasts and Goldberg Variations (thanks Renfield!) make it tolerable.
    Sitting next to me? Usually Audrey Hepburn, and occasionally Francoise Hardy.

    I think it’s important to support anti-truck diatribes. One of my faves, from Drew Magary:

    They could reduce everyday traffic here by getting rid of all the NON-necessary trucks from the road. That includes soccer mom SUVs, Suburbans, the dreaded Hummer, monster trucks (Gravedigger, what have you), and pickup trucks. Especially pickup trucks. Over 15 percent of vehicles on the road right now are pickup trucks, and they fucking suck. I hate them. They all deserve to be keyed.

    I am well aware that pickup trucks are a legitimate necessity for contractors, landscapers, day laborers, and anyone else whose job is dependent upon hauling around loose freight in the cab from site to site. But the majority of pickup truck owners don’t use their pickups for any of that shit. They just like driving a truck around and blasting Lady Antebellum out of the window. They want all the cushiness of an SUV while pretending they’re longshoremen. They’re fucking poseurs.

    America’s boner for pickups goes back years. Politicians use them to make themselves relatable to all the faux hardscrabble cave people living out in the sticks. Ads for them litter every NFL broadcast. Half are all country music songs feature some guy with a painted goatee chirping about how his truck is more loyal than his woman. Pickup trucks are a fucking DISEASE among these people, and they’re representative of rednecks’ aggressive need to destroy the world just to make their dicks look bigger. Pickup trucks get shit mileage. They don’t fit regulation in parking spaces. They have front blind spots that are INCREDIBLY dangerous to any kid or dog that dares step in front of one.

    And they’re only getting worse. Every year, Ford and Chevy unveil an updated model of pickup that’s taller, shinier, and more openly belligerent. These are trucks designed with the priority of displaying your NRA back window decal as prominently as is possible. They serve no other purpose other than to make dickheads feel better about themselves. They are AR-15s in car form.

    I have driven a pickup truck before. It’s fun as shit to sit up there and lord over the road. But it’s not worth getting my jollies off just to toodle around in a vehicle designed to intimidate other cars on the road for no good reason. If you drive a pickup truck, but you don’t use it the way it was intended, you’re a gaping asshole and everyone knows it. They should require a special license for you to drive one, and you better be a fucking certified bricklayer to qualify.


    1. If you need more piano music, I recommend Schubert’s Impromptus. Not as brainy as Bach, but often a better melodist. Murray Perahia is probably my favorite in that, but Radu Lupu’s set is just as good, and I’ve never linked him before.

  3. I’ve long been of the opinion that an orderly society would have far more mass transit options than usual in the US, and that owning a pickup truck should require proof that one’s livelihood requires one. And why do pick-up drivers always back into parking spaces? So few of them can do it well. And it’s often said that the size of one’s truck is inverse to one’s, um, endowment.

    I was in NYC for a year, and Stockholm as well. I like cars, but I never missed having one, especially in Stockholm, which is an insanely functional city. Subways and busses actually were clean and ran on schedule. And I love to walk.

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