Song of the open road

Traffic and gas prices are too high for us to recall the sheer fun of driving. Fletcher Knebel, author of political thrillers (he co-wrote Seven Days in May, about the possibility of a military coup in the U.S., which was a huge bestseller), wrote a 1972 novel called Dark Horse about how, when a presidential candidate dies shortly before the election, a smoke-filled room replaces him with a totally unknown New Jersey highway official who runs a populist (joyful, not demagogic) campaign speaking to Americans out in their cars on the highways. Not much later, GM ran a commercial with catchy music and gorgeous shots of folks piling into their Chevys. I want a yellow Corvette to this day because of the shot of one scything through a field, to the tune of the jingle of the day:

Driving in your car
It’s all there in your hands
You’ve got room to breathe and the whole wide world to see
There’s something about the feeling
In a really fine machine
That turns you loose, that really sets you free
It’s a better way
It’s a better feeling
When the wheel belongs to you, the road goes anywhere you say
It’s a better way
It’s the feel of freedom
And it’s so much better in a Chevrolet

The Eisenhower interstate system was still relatively young and America was still relatively innocent. I live in downtown Boston now and would welcome a self-driving radarmobile, but those were good times.

My one-sentence opinion on aid to Israel

Good column by Thomas Friedman in today’s New York Times about how true but honest friends of Israel (e.g., Barack Obama and John Kerry) are pilloried while our incoming national nightmare will be busy licking Netanyahu’s boots when he isn’t tongue-polishing Putin’s. Indeed, Bibi and King Boor are remarkably alike in their bluster and pigheaded egoism: Express the slightest disagreement with the prime minister, or clear your throat as if you’re about to, and you’re blasted as an enemy of Israel; express anything less than the fawning adulation the orange narcissist requires, and you’re on the receiving end of a tweetstorm as a sad loser.

Your thoughts, Mr. Stakerson? Israel’s right to exist is absolute and non-negotiable, and any existential threat to it will be met with the full wrath and might of the United States, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use words like “insane” and “bestial” to describe Netanyahu’s and the West Bank settlers’ attempt to annex the area and destroy all hope of a two-state solution. That’s a lot of words, so I’ll say it in fewer: I’m for anything short of a blank check to anything short of an apartheid state. Unfortunately, the grotesque-elect and the GOP are shouting their support for the former, while Netanyahu and the Israeli right wing are driving deliberately toward the latter.

Chips in space

I’ve forgotten thousands of facts, hundreds of faces, and two foreign languages, but I have an airtight memory for useless things from the ’60s through ’80s. The other day we were discussing whether Pringles are baked or fried (they’re fried, but processed from dough instead of sliced from potatoes) and all I could contribute was the jingle of the day, from the original TV commercial:

Every single Pringles potato chip is a perfect potato chip!
They’re not broken, fresh and crunchy too!
The canister keeps them that way for you!

More jingles to follow. You don’t believe I have such a prodigious memory? You dare to doubt I can sing the Star Trek original series theme song with the little-known lyrics from the Star Trek Lives! trade paperback? Just try and stop me:

Beyond
The rim of the starlight
My love
Is wandering in star flight
I know
He’ll find in strange starry reaches
Love,
Strange love a star-woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never,
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

Yes, there are two extra syllables in the last line. Changing it to “Remember poor me” or “Remember, duh, me” does the trick, freeing you for shrieking the high notes at the end.