America had always been known for a few things, greatness, badassery, guns and car culture. Great movies like Bullet and Smokey and the Bandit, put the Mustang and Trans Am vehicles out front which made them true icons of American culture. If you are a man and haven’t watched either of these movies, it is a must that you do so, or tear up your man card and light that shit on fire. If you are a male Hipster, Millennial, Antifa Member, Social Justice Warrior, Easily Offended and or work at a Starbucks, these are required movies you must watch, if any of you I just mentioned, ever decide to apply for your man card. The fifties, sixties and seventies were the muscle car years, big cars with big engines, cruising boulevards or strip mall parking lots showing off these great looking machines with pride. In my opinion those were the greatest decades of car culture. Off road trucks and SUV’s tearing up dirt roads and big box store parking lots, their footprints in American culture larger than their huge mudder tires make in an open pasture. The car culture of these modern times, is much different. The vehicles are much more technologically advanced, but lack soul. The Asian vehicles of today are excellent in the reliability and gas mileage department, but they don’t actually stir the soul, like an IROC Camaro or Corvette. I can never understand why these car companies cannot bridge these two concepts, stirring the soul good looks and new school reliability and tech. I drive a Dodge Durango powered by a5.7 liter Hemi. It sure does bridge the holy crap that truck is Badass and the tech. It gets about three feet to a gallon and it’s too new to gauge its long term reliability but its fast as a rocket sled on the rails and looks like a beast and makes environmentalists pee themselves. I love that.
Recently, a friend of our family’s son stopped by to show off his new car. His name is Tammeron, I think that name sounds like a spice I’d put on my curry, if I ate the kind of shit, but that’s apparently passes for a name these days. I have a soft spot for this kid, his Dad left the family for a nineteen year old Waffle House waitress, so when he comes to talk to me, I try to give him support. I get where he’s coming from, I grew up in New Jersey and we didn’t have Waffle Houses but we did have Diners, and our Diners were great. Anyway, my dad had a “friend” named Lola, who was a waitress at the local Diner, who he would spend weekends with from time to time. Lola had a unique look. She was a cross between 1992 Kathy Bates and 2018 Madonna. Lola’s hair was bleached more aggressively than an Abercrombie and Fitch Model’s teeth. That hair was piled ridiculously high, even for Jersey standards. Lola’s hair was higher than Snoop Dog. It took about twelve cans of Aqua Net to hold the shit in place. Lola talked in a Minnie mouse style voice and cursed like a Philadelphia truck driver, all the while snapping her Juicy Fruit Gum like Indiana Jones Snapped his whip. She was a real pleasure. But I digress, I try to spend time with Tammeron, since his dad isn’t around I try to be there for some man influence. Obviously there was no man influence, during the car buying process, because parked in my driveway was a black Econo car. I didn’t notice it as a car at first, I thought it was a hockey puck souvenir from last night’s Predator’s game. I honestly don’t even know, who the manufacturer was, these “style” vehicles all seem to look the same. Tammeron stood next to it smiling proudly asking for my opinion. My true reaction was to fall to my knees and weep in sorrow for the death of Tammeron’s masculinity. I was good though, and saved his feelings. I gave him a thumbs up and said, “Cool ass color”. Tammeron excitedly told me he was capable of getting something like a thousand miles to a gallon. He asked me what he would be capable of getting if he would have bought a Durango. I wanted to say the truth, “The respect of his male peers and girls to date him.” But I just shrugged and said, “You will surely be able to get a parking space in front of an upscale coffee shop.” Tammeron invited me to take a ride, and being the supportive older adult figure, I ran inside and switched out X-Einstein, my Glock 19X I was carrying, for my Glock 42, so the weight of the firearm didn’t throw off the vehicles balance, than I jumped in. How did it feel? The initial thought was that the vehicle felt as sturdy and the $19.99 piece of exercise equipment, my mom would buy from some television shopping channel. Bought on January first to jump start the resolution and broken by February, folded and shoved under the bed, with my old Rockem- Sockem Robots. I closed the door and the Rear View mirror turned all the way to the right and down. It hung there, in defeat like those flying Martians eye balls in The War of the Worlds movie. Tammeron gleefully gunned it and said “I better be careful, I don’t want to get a ticket.” Ticket, car couldn’t reach the speed limit if it dropped out of an airplane. Freeway entry ramps were scarier experience, than seeing Rosie O’Donnell in Yoga pants. The whole ride was bumpy, shaky and uninspiring, like experiences I’ve had when I deal with a Y wellness floor manager. My Coccyx bone prayed this torture would soon be over but, He seemed to be enjoying himself and I guess that’s what mattered.
My first car was 1970 Pontiac Le’ Mans. It was gold and had a gas guzzling V8 engine that roared and burned rubber. Airbags were for space shuttles in those days and your seat belts were waist belts only. It had an AM/FM radio and the knobs stuck out like Krudo Knives. Things were less safety controlled back then. Everybody who was lucky enough to have a car, it seemed they had something cool. The new cars of the day were too expensive for the High School and Community College kid, which was probably a good thing looking back. The soul was quickly being removed from the new vehicles, where the cool spoilers and personality vehicles, were being replaced by pedestrian square people movers. I believe it was great experiencing the Americana of car culture, hanging out in the parking lot front of the Lincroft Krauzers, drinking large fountain sodas and listening to music blasting out cassette era hair band music from car speakers, the brown haired beauty, who I just knew would be my wife, at my side. We would talk about the future and dreams and laugh with our friends, we swore we would hang out like that forever. The friend’s part were pipe dreams of course. Some are lifelong, but sadly most friends come in and out of our lives like waiters and waitresses. Like most things, time and life interfere with best intentions. By the grace of God and her monumental patients I still have that beautiful Brown haired girl, and she is more beautiful each time I look at her.
Although America’s true car culture is a thing of the past, I have found that America’s gun culture is going strong. I look around the Range and I see it as the old parking lots of the past. We have moved indoors and cars have been replaced by Guns. Men, women and entire families hanging out at the range showing off their Modified pistols, rifles and shot guns. Their weapons painted and accessorized to show their personalities. Good natured ribbing over who’s the better shot and which brand handgun is the most reliable. I’m a retired police officer and I must say that at times I miss being a part of that culture, but I have found a new community of like-minded people. I have made what I believe more lifelong friends here and that makes this place special. I hope there are others who have found similar experiences. These types of experiences always make me feel nostalgic and maybe these changes and swapping out old cultures for new ones isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that the new culture is better that the old. Their just different. Cars and Guns are America. They’re both badass ingredients that make up Americana. So perhaps there is hope out there for the American Male and American Badassery, you just have to keep a 1911 on your hip and maybe a Remington 870 in your hatchback. Keep it in the Center, remember that vehicle balance.
The Option Every Day Carry Wise Safety suggestion This is maybe more for men than women given the plumbing situation. Men instead of using the standing urinals, which are usually out in the open, when the need arises use the stall, and be sure to lock the door. This goes for the ladies also and if the door has no lock hold it closed, with your hands or feet. Ladies try to make sure your gun is safe and accessible. Being in the stall behind a secure door, gives you an extra layer of protection and a little extra reaction time. So remember Watch your six, when you are going number one.
I was recently cleaning out my basement and came across some of the toys my daughters had as kids. I it got me thinking about the toys I had as a kid. The technology of today’s toys sure has advanced since I was a Kid but, I wonder if they have really gotten better. My generation did not have these high tech video games or electronics, but the toys we did have were tough. They weren’t rechargeable, they took batteries, large heavy D-cell batteries, which were always sold separately, and you never knew that until you got home. I remember my Dad mumbling under his breath about “f-ing batteries” and “for the F-ing prices batteries should supplied.” Dad would do this while getting up to take the batteries out of his black metal police flashlight. This happened every time, whenever I think about it, I can hear his voice; it makes me laugh just a little. I remember having disagreements with friends and cousins, it taught you restraint, because hitting somebody with a toy back then could involve a hospital visit, for the recipient. Our toys had the capability to injure us, even through normal play. These toys had heavy metal moving parts that could crush and pinch fingers. Pointy corners and edges, sharper than commando knives. Our toys could truly F you up. The toys made kids tough. We didn’t have these visually beautiful worlds or action packed battlefields created by video games. We were forced to create these worlds in our imagination. We would share our imaginary worlds with friends and playmates, and they would do the same. Attacking imaginary enemy strongholds together, with toy guns, going ‘Rat A Tat Tat”, or gun shaped sticks. Afterward we would hang out in ramshackle forts built out of found wood and nails. We would sneak tools out of our father’s garages internally vowing to bring them back, but always losing them and facing Dads wrath. Those old school toys forced you to communicate with each other. To learn about each other, even learn the importance to a good friend and depend on each other. These concepts seem to be lacking importance in our society these days. Our toys gave back. Our toys gave us friendships and memories. I walk through stores today and toy guns are a pretty rare site. Toy guns have been demonized by the everyone gets a trophy culture. Take them toy guns away, they make kids violent. The amazing thing is my generation grew up with toy guns, and I don’t recall any horrible school shootings, from that time period. Sadly, the Toy gun grabbing easily offended generation can’t say that. I don’t think it’s the toy guns. I believe those old school toys helped prepare us for a life of critical thinking and expanded imaginations. It’s those mental tools that we use every day and help sharpen our situational awareness. Critical thinking is important to knowing what danger looks like and how to avoid those dangers. How to react to those dangers. Imagination is important as it helps us imagine what the dangerous people can think up and to have scenarios in place, in our minds before the crisis happens. The time to plan for a crisis is before the crisis, not during it. it’s extremely difficult to come up with a workable plan while the crisis is occurring.
My Favorite toy ever, was my Evel Knievel motorcycle riding action figure. This action figure was based on an actual American Icon of the seventies, motorcycle stunt sportsman, Evel Knievel. Evel was a living example of the American Spirit. He would do incredible stunts, jumping his Harley Davidson motorcycle over obstacles that were completely insane. Evel Knievel would be dressed head to toe in red, white and blue. He was the Elvis of stunt cycling. Evel probably crashed more times than he stuck his landings and was rumored to have broken every bone in his body at least once. Evel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in 1974. He attempted this jump in a rocket shaped vehicle called a Skycycle X-2, just the name of this thing is cool as F. The Skycycle had an open Indy car style cockpit and was powered by steam. F-ing steam, WTF, it was like an old west locomotive. This was a major event and was televised live on Wide World of Sports. The attempt was not successful, but what I took away from the footage of the Skycycle Plummeting into the canyon, and the subsequent retrieval of Evel, was this. The Skycycle itself had a parachute attached to it, much like a parachute on the back of a funny car. Evel on the other hand wore no parachute at all. What a set of balls. All these X Game athletes with their dreadlocks, lip rings and skull tatts, probably don’t even know the name Evel Knievel. That’s sad, because without Evel Knievel their sport probably wouldn’t exist. Evel Knievel Passed away on November 30th 2007, but he inspired millions of dumb kids like myself, to jump over garbage cans on our Huffy bikes. It was no surprise that a toy was built in honor of one of the toughest dudes ever but, the toy would have to be tough as well. It did not disappoint. This toy was badass, tough and grizzled. The only motorcycle dudes tougher than my Evel Knievel Toy is Kovacks and the boys riding to Shot Show on their bikes. Kovacks riding low, Wilson Combat Beretta attached to his hip. Action figure Evel Knievel could kick a Hipster’s ass. Understand what I’m saying here. I’m not talking about a Hipster –Action figure. I’m talking about an actual living coffee house dwelling Hipster. Here’s how the toy worked, you would attach the bendy Evel figure onto the Motorcycle and then hook it up to the revving machine. You would then turn the wheel handle as fast as you could. This would rev up the motorcycle motor and it would release from the gear wheel, sending the motorcycle and Evel across the room, at a relatively incredible speed. This amazingly strong plastic and metal toy would slam off of walls, table legs, siblings and parents, causing damage to everything it hit. Your brother would limp into the kitchen, crying to mom, with a Small motorcycle handlebar shaped laceration on his ankle. The toy always suffered zero damage. I sent my Evel off ramps which would send the motorcycle ten feet into the air and watched it crash to the ground. I literally sent this motorcycle with Evel, left hand above his head in victory, off the roof of my house and watched it crash onto the driveway. The toy suffered minor scratches, but worked just fine. Evel Knievel and its motorcycle worked every time on everything, indoors, outdoors, wood floors, Carpet, concrete, dirt, gravel, grass, it never stopped working. It was the Glock of toys. As the years went by I lost track of my Evel Knievel. It was lost to adulthood and time. Time is the ultimate thief. The older I get, the more evident that is. As I write this I am in another transition period of my life. Last week I helped move my oldest daughter into her new house and my youngest daughter turns twenty one and is in the final semester of college, on her way to getting her teaching degree. I’m proud of them and they are further along in life, than I was at their age. They are wonderful, smart, caring and beautiful young women. They get all those traits from their mother. I understand it’s the job of the parent to raise their children to eventually move on and start their own lives, and I’m proud and grateful to god, to have been given the privilege to have been a part of it all. But, I’m still a little sad that they had to grow up. I sometimes wish I could go back in time, even for just a little while, and have my little girls back. I know that’s impossible. I wonder if I got my hands on an Evel Knievel Action Figure could I get two adult daughters and a wife, to build a ramp and have good old Evel and jump over some stuff and hang out with their old Dad. I think it’s worth a try. Now all I need is have somebody to help me get on EBAY.
The Option Every Day Carry Wise Safety Suggestion- When in a dark room and using a flashlight, instead of pointing the light out in front of you to search and clear the room, try this trick, point the flashlight beam up to the ceiling. The light will bounce off the ceiling and light up the room like a fifteen watt bulb. Give it a try. Be safe out there.