Chapter 30
01a - Introduction
01b - The Mysterious Ski Rack
01c - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
01d - Scorpions Scorpio
01e - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
02a - Can I Get a Diet Soda
02b - Riding Into the Sunrise
03 - Modesty at Any Price
04 - Driving Down to Houston
05a - What Does That Sign Say
05b - The State Tree
05c - They Call It the Sunbelt
05d - Just Follow Your Nose
06 - The New House
07a - Billboards
07b - Billboards Again
08 - Stereo Upgrade
09 - Local Wineries
10 - Unintentionally Left Blank
11 - CBW in TX
12 - Ice House Radio
13 - Goats and Cotton
14 - Dig We Must
15 - Dan Moody
16 - Dry Heat
17 - Dead Animals We Have Known
18a - Bookstore Culture
18b - On the Open Road
19 - Weather
20 - Sightings in Bertram and Buchanan
21 - Too Many Birds
22 - Road Hazards
23 - Sightings To And From Houston
24 - The Great Wall of Train
25 - In the Heat of the Day
26 - Bite Me
27 - Bid on This Skeleton
28 - Willie Al Fresco
29 - Rural Countryside
30 - SUV SUX!
31 - Kinky on the Texas Monthly Hour
32 - Strange Yellow Sky
33 - Football is a Serious Enterprise in Texas
34 - Remember the Alamoo!
35 - What Was That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston Through Small Towns
37 - Shoe Story
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live Music in Austin But Not in Clubs
42 - Fear of Overpass
43 - The Big Sneezy
44 - New Texas
45 - Front Ended by the French Fry Mobile
46 - Dirt Farm
47 - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48 - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2009
49 - Central Time Sucks
50 - Temple Texas
51 - Christmas in Austin
52 - Pennants in the Wind
53 - The Road Less Traveled
54 - Texas-size Thunderstorm
55 - Cool Van
56 - Your New House is That-A-Way
57 - CSI Austin
58 - New MTV Game Show
59 - Equine Technology
60 - Look at That Prairie
61 - Get Your Water Here
62 - Corporate Anniversaries
63 - College Sprawl
64 - Hire These Guys
65 - Preparing for Winter
66 - Careful What You Overhear
67 - Bonnie Raitt
68 - Perfume
69 - Questionable Skills
70 - All-American Day
71 - Read Me
72 - Weird Fog
73 - Overpackaged Food
74 - What Town Was That
75 - Texas Book Festival 2010
76 - Bulletproof Roof
77 - The Oldest Photo
78 - Cheesesteaks Part 1
79 - Cheesesteaks Part 2
80 - Sure We Got Culture
81 - A Message to Gyno-Americans
82 - The cathedral of Junk

The behemoths of the parking lot


If you hear that there has been a rash of crime in Texas, signs at auto dealers being vandalized, you'll know that I finally had it. I'm going to paint out the left arm of the V and then move it over to cross the right arm. V to X. Aha! These things are a menace. They're too large to see through or around. If you're driving a real car, they can surround you and cut off all your vision of the road.

Used to be that you'd miss an occasional road sign because there was some truck in the right lane and it hid the sign at just the right (or wrong) time. Now it's common to be boxed in by truck-sized opaque objects full of soccer moms, kids, and groceries. SUXs are about half the vehicles sold every year recently, and if you include pickup trucks, the larger the better down heah, boy, these highway behemoths seem to be more than half of all the cars on the road.

Used to be that you could sometimes see the road ahead through the windows of the car ahead, even in heavy traffic. But no, now either the SUXs are too tall and you can't see through the windows from the height of a normal car, or all the other cars have black-as-night window tinting (q.v.) and you can't see through them, anyway. Now all we reasonable folks suffer car claustrophobia much of the time. The only way to fight it is to get Ford Leviathan myself. Must . . . resist . . . temptation . . . .

Used to be that you could park a car in a space between two other cars. But no, not now, not if the other vehicles are SUXs, because they're so wide they barely fit between the lines of parking spaces, even on the rare occasions that their drivers have the skill to put them between the lines or vaguely parallel to the lines. There's no room between two of them to park a real car. Motorcycles and Renault 2CVs only. By the way, in the land of "We grow 'em Texas-size down here, y'all," that old saw sure doesn't hold true for parking spaces. Vehicles, yes, all these !@#$%^&*() SUXs, but not parking spaces, nosirreebob.

Used to be that you could walk between parked cars. No more. When SUXs and pickups do manage to fit in the parking spaces, they don't leave much room between them. And then there are those huge side mirrors. If they park just so, they leave maybe a foot, foot and a half between the mirrors. At work, for instance, the cars are parked in double rows. An aisle, two rows of cars, another aisle, two more rows of cars, another aisle, and so forth. To go from one aisle to the next, you have to walk between the cars. Two rows, two pairs of cars. Or not-cars, which is where the problem comes in. Saunter through the wrong space between vehicles, and you get whacked by those side mirrors. It's like twisting through a herd of longhorns. How hard is it to find a gap to walk through that is all cars? Don't even try. If half the cars in the parking lot are SUXs or pickups, only a few of the gaps have four cars. (One in sixteen, I think, and experience bears out that rarity.) So drivers of the SUXs find their mirrors pointed at the moon when they leave work, and maybe the doors get a few extra scratches from the briefcases. Tough.

Used to be that a big car like my Pontiac Bonneville, known as The Belchfire V8 to some friends, was a good bet in an accident, heavy enough and containing enough real metal to help the passengers survive. But now in an collision with one of these giant road hogs, we are sure to be, as Click and Clack opine, "strictly closed casket material." Air bags won't help you when Godzilla is a-stompin'.

One final note: a song during a break on Click & Clack (Car Talk on NPR, for anyone who doesn't know about them, that is, anyone with taste) had the following lyric:

Those SOBs in their SUVs,
Talkin' on their cell phones,
Drivin' with their knees.