I’vbe been doing a lot of useless sitting lately. Yesterday I noticed that someone had stolen my Sears & Roebuck catalog, so I picked this magazine out of the rack, and suddenly had an epiphany.
Short answer to the title question: Not For Long, once socialism gets a firm grip. For you see, behind those svelte lines (and the truck ain’t bad, either) is a tale of culture that is once again, peculiarly American…and is the process of getting hosed.
This is about the magazine “Mini Truckin'”, who would buy it, and who could possibly profit from publishing it. Think about that, then harken back. Prof Henry Higgins had all sorts of journals, magazines, even literature that was dedicated solely to him…and his class. But Eliza Doolittle? Nowhere could you find, even in the poorest newsstand on Old Nichol Street, a “Flower-Sellers Weekly”. In Dickens’ London there were no “Pincher’s Revue” (for pickpockets) of “Shoving the Queer Daily” (for counterfeiters).
Top to bottom in England, Europe, all the way back to the ancients, once you crossed that line from upper to lower class, no editor, no writer, no entrepreneur could find any profit in trying to sell much of anything to a people who nature had ordained would never have any disposable income to invest in the first place. Eliza Doolittle and the Artful Dodger survived on a day-to-day existence, by the sweat of their brows and quickness of their wits…and sometimes the nimbleness of their fingers. Their idea of disposable income was quickly disposed down at the nearest pub.
This is how life had always been for thousands of years, and still is in much of the world…only now administered by a host of socialist governments and the United Nations…so with cleaner dirty t-shirts and church bazaar hand-me-downs, and fewer dirt-rimmed mouths (unless being photographed for a fundraiser)…but an even deeper sense of resignation and hopelessness, I feel.
But I digress. Now, this is not to say that someone from the lower classes cannot be tapped out and move into at least a financially respectable arena of the middle or upper classes. But turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, as Higgins tried with Eliza? Not likely. Not in real life. (Forget Pretty Woman, too.) But “tapped out” is exactly what I mean, as in that high school ceremony many of you may recall, when A-students with candles moved around the auditorium and tapped out new members for the Beta Club. (Do they still do it that way? I doubt the politically-correct would allow it.)
I had pro bono clients in east Africa in the late 80s, who were in the throw-the dog-a-bone-part of the small business sector in Kenya. Their entire world view was that only by luck, by someone picking them out from a crowd, much like playing the slots with an aluminum slug, could they finally get that big chance. Of course, this was how their system was set up. I tried to draw it out on a chalkboard. Passage through any door to greater wealth by merit was simply not in the blueprint. An immobile “drone” class was there by design. This is why some Korean families sold their daughters into prostitution as recent as the 1970s, on the happen chance, if they survived, they might meet a rich man who liked them. This is why, in another time in Europe some families prayed for very pretty sons who could be sold to a Turkish bey, in hopes, after he grew into maturity, if they survived, they could move on and marry into better social circles.
Under the Nazis and Soviets, the best way to be tapped out (in a positive way…they had a whole special way to tap folks in the negative…as all socialists do) was to become a celebrity; in sports, theater, art, music, anything that magnified the glory of the State and the Glorious Leader…all of which required some skill, and all of which were at the sufferance of the state. They might become wealthy (in Germany) or receive special perqs and privileges (in the USSR), and live under the spotlight of an adoring public. Hitler loved Max Schmeling…until he lost…to a black man. Stalin loved the Bolshoi so made its dancers into national celebrities. Later leaders loved Olympians. Castro loved baseball. The East Germans loved female swimmers who looked like Mike Ditka and Ahmadinijad loved camels, especially one named Baboo, which explains where the terms “ships of the desert” comes from.
I think you see where I’m going here. So, back to “Mini-Truckin'” magazine. A little background.
While the rest of the world struggled with these day-to-day fights to survive, much less get ahead…in America kids were souping up cars, this practice starting sometime during the Depression..of all times! Imagine, during the Great Depression!…farm kids, mostly, could buy a car for around $10…if it didn’t work, and $20 if it did. Because Pa maybe had an IH Farmall (not a John Deere, Nessa) they knew everything about engines and the proper use of baling wire to make any vehicle move forward. It might take a year to save up to buy the car and another to get the parts. But they did. The tires they bought were already bald, or probably stolen off the back of a CCC truck or a rubber drive for the war effort.
This did not occur anywhere else in the world, even among Europe’s middle classes.
There is a reason for that. (So, Tthink about it.)
Now, those kids grew up, fought a war, took the GI Bill and went to college, and by the mid-50s, in suburbs from St Augustine to Hollywood, began buying up old ’32 Fords and Woodys (Sky King drove one) and tinkering with them in their garages. You could still get one for $50, running when I was a kid. They taught their kids, who all went on to star in Beach Blanket Bingo with Anette and Frankie in the 1960s, all about the glories of peeking up under the hood long before we knew anything about peeping up under skirts. That was my generation.
But some of them, southern kids, mostly, started racing them, or for bigger money, retrofitting the tanks to run moonshine along Thunder Road. What happened, of course, is history. Unlike the entrepreneurs who nixed any idea of selling flower magazines to Eliza Doolittle, men started thinking “Why not grade out some dirt track out in the county and charge people a buck a head to come watch those kids race?”
Not sure about Europe, but that’s how American history operates. And there’s a reason for that…and it is once again, peculiarly American.
NASCAR was born in the 40s, but its expansion into the heart and soul of America really began in the 1950s, born of these dirt-track kids who just loved speed and engines and purty yeller trucks. Who knew purty gurls in stiletto heels would some along? 100% of all the drop-outs in my original high school class, circa 1960, all D-F students, could field strip and re-assemble the carburetor of a Kaiser-Fraser blindfolded, and at least one made it to Darlington, which trust me, was a helluva lot bigger than my autographed picture of Paul Hornung when he was still at Notre Dame.
I’m not sure when, but someone looked up and discovered that automobile racing, from a dirt track in Bumble Bee, Georgia to Daytona, was the biggest spectator sport in America…by a wide margin.
Suddenly those kids who liked to soup up their cars and race were suddenly racing for prizes and fame that only princes used to dream of in other parts of the world. And not a one of them cared what George Bernard Shaw thought about their reading skills or funny way of talking…although, had they known him, it would have pleased them to know that they would have pissed him off doubly…by proving him wrong twice over.
This Mini-Truckin’ Magazine is just an off-shoot of all that money created by entrepreneurship and disposable income, and the ability to create wealth in such a way that people have hundreds of choices to follow their passions and their hobbies. Jay Leno may have a warehouse filled with great cars and trucks, but a lawyer in Albuquerque may have only one, that he fixed up himself, a doctor in Saginaw another, that he takes to shows on weekends, and a kid in North Wilkesboro (NC) only has this one magazine, which he leafs through and dreams, during his 10-minute break at the 24-hour wrecker service, still getting straight D’s in English.
Mini-Truckin’ reflects that this kind of sport, and this kind of collecting interest has gone mainstream. It is no longer for Georgia carrot-tops with mullets. In America, all earned money is mainstream, and that is really the central point in this war between the free market and socialism. To the Left, this is Bubba-wealth. I’ll never forget back in the ’80s when one of the richest men in town was blackballed membership to the country club…by his own lawyer and accountant…for whom he accounted maybe a quarter of their entire income…on the sole basis he was a rube, that he sold his share of his daddy’s farm in the early 60’s and bought the first hamburger franchise with the money. More than once I heard other professionals in town mutter “It isn’t fair”…not that he’d been blackballed, but that he out-earned all of them by a factor of 5. One of those was my father-in-law. RIP
Socialists of every stripe are in the “It Ain’t Fair” Club, just like that bunch of professionals in that little county in Kentucky. Some are meaner about it than others. They all want to restore that natural order I mentioned at the top of this piece, but have different ideas about the speed of it, and whether, in the end, the fatted goose should finally be gutted.
The future of Mini-Truckin’?
Well, as only two years have proved, both the Congressional Left and the Obama Left (they are not the same, folks, so take notice) have laid dead aim on the ability of the bubbas to create wealth. And yes, that doesn’t just mean doctors and lawyers who love their ’32 Sportsters, but the publishers, and the kids who still hang out in a garage, doing the diagnostics on a ’07 Honda on company time, then hanging around to field strip a ’55 Chevy motor block after hours. Yes, even that cute little semi-blond with store-bought heels (and other parts) in slutty pose, will be seeking work elsewhere. How quickly that will occur, 5 years, 10 years, will depend on which one those two Left wing factions win.
Either way, you’re up to you elbows in alligators. As Fram says, you can surrender now, or surrender later.