October 9, 2005


When Size Really Mattered (Joel Achenbach, 10/02/05, Washington Post)

The car is a singularly American technology. It is a freedom machine in a freedom-crazed society. It promotes individuality. It laughs at communal living. The HOV lanes are under-subscribed for deep cultural reasons. Rugged individualism in America means never joining a car pool.

Whether you're male or female, a car is fundamentally virile. It is sex wrought in metal. Maturity in America comes not at puberty or high school graduation, but with the receipt of a driver's license and the state-sanctioned ability to get in a car, pick up a date, drive somewhere dark, park and make out. Vroom, vroom, baby.

When you get tired of tooling around town in American Graffiti mode, you light out for the territory, hit Route 66, get in a drag race like James Dean, head to Vegas like Hunter S. Thompson, spend weeks on the road like Jack Kerouac. Our cult heroes were brilliant drivers. You have to put out of your mind that Route 66 has been largely obliterated by freeways, that Dean died young in a car crash, that Thompson burned out and took his own life, and that Kerouac became a drunk and died of internal bleeding in St. Petersburg at the age of 47. Just keep driving.

In a car, you can change gears, directions and your destiny. The car is an extension of your body. Here's a Duke University neuroscientist rhapsodizing after an experiment showing how primates manipulate tools: "We're saying that it's not only the brain that is adaptable; it's the whole concept of self. And this concept of self extends to our tools. Everything from cars to clothing that we use in our lives becomes incorporated into our sense of self."

It's not just your car -- it's your wheeled appendage!

This is particularly important if you are a guy and you have appendage issues.

It'd save us much social damage and make these losers just as happy if we just gave them a free penis enlargement with the purchase of a bus/rail pass.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2005 9:19 AM

It'd save us much social damage and make you losers just as happy if we just gave them a free castration with the purchase of a bus/rail pass.

Posted by: sam at October 9, 2005 10:09 AM

Wow! Somebody who understands!

"Fire converted to speed. . .freedom machine...The car is an extension of your body"

Guns, cars, cell phones--shoot, move and communicate. Project the individual self in time and space. These are all bad things, those who cower behind doors in silence tell us.

Clutch that umbrella tightly: the bus will come for you in a time of another's choosing.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 9, 2005 10:09 AM


Too small to be worth castrating.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 10:17 AM

That article is a load of nonsense. It's always stupid to psychoanalyze people you disagree with than to make sensible arguments.

Posted by: Brandon at October 9, 2005 10:37 AM

Thank goodness for Freud's preoccupation with male genitals. Without it, generations of middlebrows would lack the inspiration for such frippery.

Coming up next, a sports writer contemplates the slugger with his long, hard, heavy bat or a jockey feeling the power of a quarterhorse pulsing between his thighs as he flies down the racecourse. Oooh, baby.

oj, in your crusade against personal transport, you really should find better allies.

Posted by: Ed Bush at October 9, 2005 11:13 AM

New York City has 600-foot long trains going repeatedly in and out of tunnels 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for over 100 years. No wonder the Islamic terrorists want to blow it up...

Posted by: John at October 9, 2005 11:19 AM


No one doubts that's why chicks dig horses, do they?

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 11:22 AM

The reactions from the penis envy brigades are instructive....

Posted by: Sigmund at October 9, 2005 11:26 AM


Those who hate humanity always hate trains.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 11:27 AM

John: well that get's at the heart of OJ's train fascination, doesn't it?

Now, if we just get those train-lovers a free penis enlargement, and maybe a picture of a big, sweaty train engineer to put over their beds . . .

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 9, 2005 11:38 AM


Train lovers are in the sleepers, with their women.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 11:40 AM

The subtext being the hatred of individual transport unencumbered by the state, not the burning of fossil fuels that make it possible. Once hydrogen, fusion power, or even electric cars become viable the criticism of the car will continue.

Posted by: Pete at October 9, 2005 11:49 AM

Yes, cars are evil, not fossil fuel.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 12:03 PM

They should do a study to determine the preferred transportation of male porn stars. I personally am willing to bet that those well-endowed men drive and/or desire the same vehicles their less fortunate brethren do. I am also willing to bet that they would rather drive than ride a train.

Posted by: Pepys at October 9, 2005 12:20 PM

OJ: I will start taking you seriously on this subject when you sell the suburban and make the kids walk to school -- in February.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 9, 2005 12:48 PM

Along similar lines, this just in from the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco (from a presentation given by Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley):

Old (Maslow 1970's) hierarchy of needs:


New (current younger generation's) hierarchy of needs:

Internet/mobile phone
Food and water

Posted by: ZF at October 9, 2005 12:51 PM

Was not O.J. only recently lamenting that "we've all become Freudians?"

I am weary. Weary of those who would diagnose military leaders as waging war to make up for some lack of a package (or lack of nookie). Weary of those who point out that missiles are phallic in shape (and not merely aerodynamic). Weary of those who use Freud to explain all "bad" behavior. (All "bad" male behavior that is.)

Posted by: Brian McKim at October 9, 2005 2:16 PM

That's the mistake Kubrick made in Strangelove. We could all identify with how much more masculine it would be to ride the very missile into Moscow, a la Slim Pickens, than the feminine position of the Cold War.

Freud was wrong about such feelings being repressed, they're right out in the open, and about guys wanting to get jiggy with Mom.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 2:28 PM

Great, now you've made the Shriner's and their tiny cars into something unseemly.

I've never been a car guy, but I always found that argument silly. It seems to speak more to car-envy or class-envy on the part of those claiming overcompensation.

Posted by: RC at October 9, 2005 2:44 PM


You think Freud was right about that whole Mom business?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 9, 2005 3:01 PM

As I've always said, any man who makes lists of men whose prison wife he wants to be (and who thinks that men who don't make lists like that are the abnormal ones) has given up the right to impugn others' sexuality. And, as Mr. Schwartz points out, Orrin drives one of the largest SUVs on the market today, which makes him a gross hypocrite. Sorry, OJ when you trade in that fat land yacht for a hybrid I'll stop thinking your views on the transit issues in this country are a big load of feces.

Posted by: Governor Breck at October 9, 2005 3:03 PM


You're just bitter cause mine's bigger.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 3:20 PM

Again, the bizarre thing in all this is the way he worships trains. Is that two hundred tons of steel in your pocket, or are you just happy to see us?

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 9, 2005 3:56 PM


Neither pocket nor driveway--one doesn't own a train, unlike the compensatory automobile.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 4:02 PM

On a related note, today I got stuck behind a massive SUV going about 5 miles an hour over a piece of the road that had been torn up & graveled to put some drain pipes underneath it. I don't understand this. Why on earth own an SUV if you're going to slow to a crawl every time the road gets bumpy?!

Needless to say, a woman was driving.

Posted by: Timothy at October 9, 2005 4:13 PM

So a great big smoking snorting substitute steel penis is fine just as long as everybody gets to share it. The Gov is right: you're a total freakin' pervert, dude.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 9, 2005 4:27 PM


It's made to be shared.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 4:35 PM

In the shuffling madness ...

Posted by: ghostcat at October 9, 2005 5:22 PM

He's a little too light to shuffle.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 9, 2005 5:45 PM


The fondness of chicks for horseback riding is only partly metaphorical.

Siggy also said locomotives are symbols of death. You are just so decadent.

Posted by: Ed Bush at October 9, 2005 5:54 PM

It's a good thing all those pseudo-Freudian andti-technology types haven't fired rifle matches, prone with their rifles, slipping cartridges, again and again, into the inviting, round, open chamber. What would they say if they knew about the rythmic hammering of rapid-fire strings, as the butt of the rifle slams heavily into the shooter's shoulder?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just as Freud's cigar was still a smoke, a car is still a car and a gun is still a gun. Yes, they are sexual, but they are sexual in Freud's sense, being affirmations of life. That is not the way members of most religious orders look at things, but the rest of us live that way, whether or not we admit it.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 9, 2005 5:56 PM

They'd say you'll go blind.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 6:22 PM


Ever heard Long Black Train?

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 6:23 PM

Nope. Only Long Black Veil.

Where can I find the lyrics?

Posted by: Ed Bush at October 9, 2005 7:15 PM

That's one Walter Johnson!

Posted by: ghostcat at October 9, 2005 7:40 PM

oj: Shooters wear these yellow tempered glasses to protect themselves from going blind.

I forgot to tell you about the tight leather jacket and the leather straps binding you to the rifle.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 9, 2005 10:05 PM

Stop it, Lou. He'll run out and get himself hurt, and you'll feel responsible.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 9, 2005 10:55 PM

I stopped shooting when I found a wife.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 10:58 PM