Me, My Dad, and Cars


i love to feel something when I drive a fast car, or as a passenger in a nice car with a good driver at the wheel.  Rental cars don’t matter, though when in Europe on nice big autostradas I always drove small cars like Renault 5’s and would have loved a Ferrari or some such supercar.  I drive a Porsche with manual shift, and in spite of my earlier derision for Porsche owners (you know the joke about the difference between a porsche and a porcupine?) I have come to appreciate the amazingness of driving this car.

I think this gene was passed on to me by my father.  My older brother never cared about cars, so he didn’t get that particular gene.  My dad had some beauties when I was growing up, but sadly I was always too young to drive them (except for once or twice).  My dad bought 3 gorgeous Ferraris, a 250 GT (red), two 275 GTB’s (burgundy and silver) , and a 308 GT (yellow).  He also had a Mercedes Benz 300 SL gullwing (silver, with matching red leather luggage), a Maserati 3500 GT (blue), and almost bought Mel Blanc’s Aston Martin DB 5 (the voice of Warner Brothers cartoons lived up the street, and the same car as the first Bond car).  These two last cars had coachwork by Touring of Milan,  which always created beautiful-looking cars.

I was never that close with my dad, but I was thrilled beyond belief when he took me in a ride in one of them.  I almost hoped I’d be late for school so I’d miss the school bus and Dad would half to rush me down Sunset Blvd.  It was so exhilarating being with my dad on those speedy sorties.

I also sat in his cars in the garage,  caressing the gearshift, smelling the leather and checking out the beautiful gauges.  The Ferrari speedometer went up to 300 (k/m/h, not m/p/h, but I didn’t know that).

It wasn’t all fun, however;  I was the one, not my older brother, who had to wax the car with Blue Coral carnauba wax and shine the Borrani wire wheels for several Concours d’Elegances.  My dad didn’t win.  My older brother got to drive the beautiful 250 GT with coachwork by Boano (red car, classic Ferrari rosso color below).  I drove the 275 GTB later on.  There is nothing like the sound of the V-12 Ferrari engine.  Enzo Ferrari once said “when you buy a Ferrari, you pay the the engine.  The rest of the car is free”.

I expect people who drive (or even rent) super cars to at least know something about them.  An Aston Martin driver should know what the ‘DB” stands for David Brown, the farm equipment industrialist who created the iconic British sports car.  A Ferrari driver should know where the black horse emblem comes from (from a famous WWI Italian figher plane).  A Lamborghini driver should know how the company got started (An Italian farm equipment industrialist (just like David Brown) who got insulted by Enzo Ferrari and decided to get back at him by designing another super car).  I know all this, and I have never owned any of these cars!

I know most people just choose a car for practical reasons.  I don’t want to seem the snob;  it’s just that I was more romantic about cars;   I was never practical:  my former rides include a Jaguar XK 150S, a Citroen, a Peugeot station wagon,  a Renault Le Car.  Now that I’m older I am fortunate to drive a real driver’s car.   The automobile is an amazing object of travel, of speed, of gestalt and driver focus (I don’t text while driving, and wouldn’t even if  I didn’t drive a manual shift car.    From the body design to the exhaust note, not to mention the racing pedigree and heritage.

Here are some of those beautiful cars I sat in and so admired:

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Salt, Pepper, and Other Spices We Take for Granted



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Last night, as I ground black pepper and sprinkled some French sea salt into my salad, I stopped to ponder how we take these spices for granted.

Back in the Middle Ages, before Portuguese, Dutch and other Voyages of Discovery sailed to Indonesia, India, and other places, spices were worth as much as gold and were often bartered for them.  Some people paid their rent in peppercorns.  The Spice Route was the culinary counterpart of the Silk Route that connected so many countries   In Ghana–formerly the Gold Coast–gold was traded for salt.  Nutmeg, one of the most valuable spices of all, came from just one small Indonesian island.  Cinnamon was also very rare and prized.    Spices revolutionized food during the Renaissance and elevated cuisine beyond measure from the bland, tasteless stuff of medieval times.  Spices were also condemned at first by the Catholic Church for arousing the senses.  We weren’t supposed to take such gustatory pleasure in food.

We take all this for granted now.  We shouldn’t.  Spices improve our daily lives, are plentiful and.  It wasn’t always that way.  The book below tells us wondrous things about the history of spices.


Snail Mucus Mask: Proustian Memories Gone Bad


The other night I was slightly horrified when, upon opening my girlfriend’s refrigerator to grab something, wine I think, and saw a packet of something called “Snail Mucus Facial Mask” on the inside door shelf.  Apparently it’s all the rage now;  after getting its start in Spain, it’s now big in Korea and becoming popular here too.

It reminded me of something that happened when I was around five.  My big brother was ten at the time and twice as big and strong as I was.  Sometimes that meant torture.  One time he pinned my arms down on the grass with his knees on top of me and put a snail under my nose.  It slowly moved across from one side to another.  It was excruciating, but  I couldn’t do anything about it, not even get revenge later on (he’d always win anyway).

So now people are willingly putting this slimy disgusting stuff on their faces?   I’ll pass, thanks.  Just give me clay instead.

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LSD: Back in Therapy Once Again


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LSD has had a complicated history ever since a Swiss chemist, Dr. Albert Hoffman, discovered it by accident back in the 1940s.  It was used by the CIA in experiments, by Hollywood stars in the 1950s, and was huge among the hippies and mind-adventurers in the 1960s.  It was banned in the U.S. in 1966.

Now, another Swiss doctor, this time a psychiatrist named Dr. Peter Gasser.  He is administering the drug to end-of-life patients,  who are having mystical experiences and who reported less anxiety and a more positive approach to death.   One patient said “I will say I have been more emotional since the study ended, and I don’t mean always cheerful……but I think it’s better to feel things strongly–better to be alive than to merely function”.

The New York Times piece was published yesterday.  Here is the link:

The article reminded me of Aldous Huxley, British novelist and visionary.  His book The Doors of Perception was widely read in the 1960 and still is today;  it chronicles his experience taking mescaline in the 1950s, while living here in Los Angeles.  The band The Doors took its name from Huxley’s book.

As Huxley was dying here in late 1963, he asked his wife Laura to give him an injection of LSD so he could fully experience his own demise.  On that dark day in history—when JFK was assassinated–Huxley reportedly died a death of serenity and bliss.