Book Reports! An American Tragedy...and a Travesty

I have really been neglecting my reading lately until this past fall, when I applied some much needed eye drops to the ol' peepers and finally stretched out the cognitive functions in my brain once again.

First up was Philip Roth's newest book, Indignation. Roth is a highly-acclaimed American novelist famous for his exploration of the Jewish condition in 20th Century America and his recurring character Nathan Zuckerman.

I have read one other of his books, 2004's The Plot Against America, an historical "what-if" about the repercussions to Jewish Americans of real-life Nazi-sympathizer Charles Lindbergh winning the 1940 presidential election.

Indignation is a much shorter and considerably lighter entry of his favorite subject matter. Marcus Messner tells a first-person account of a Jewish boy from Roth's own home of Newark, New Jersey attending college in Christian, Midwestern Ohio, far from home and the annoying clutches of his overbearing, kosher-butcher father. A comedic-page turner to the tragic end, Roth captures the quintessential American experience from the 1950's while Messner fights for independence and self-confidence on an journey of sexual discovery. As with The Plot against America, Roth uncovers feelings that we've all hidden behind walls of silence or tough exteriors, while showing the younger of us that they are universal throughout past generations. Providing the older of us with a nostaligic and poignient look back on a country that was much larger and far more mysterious and open from the coasts to the heartland.


Eric Van Lustbader picked up the Jason Bourne saga from Robert Ludlum and has over 21 other novels that are international bestsellers, but First Daughter is the first book of his that I've ever read, and I'm dismayed, yet not surprised he has gotten as far as he has. Capitalizing on the backlash to the current president's faith-based administation, Lustbader weaves a somewhat intriguing thriller starring a goverment agent on the trail of the President-elect's kidnapped daughter.

Yet, while the prologue is a shocker, grabbing you by the lapels with the post-kidnapped daughter about to commit a terrorist act at her own father's inauguration, the entire story becomes bogged down by seemingly endless cliches and abysmal dialogue. The main character is - of course - named "Jack [Irish surname]," a loner who hides dark secrets and sees the world in a very different way - his "synapses" are contantly "firing". Every chapter, a main character is brought to their knees by emotional kvetching or unconsolable sobbing, or delivering heavy-handed soliliquies. Lustbader is trying to accomplish too much with these amaturish devices, to fill in needed information all at once that could should be spread out more subltly. Mistaking melodrama for literary weight.

Bad writing has never stopped anyone from making a living at it, howver. The entire novel reads like a screen-play starring James Kaan and Jennifer Aniston and it's plausible that's exactly what Lustbader had in mind. His Bourne novels have paid the bills for years apparently, although I'm not entirely sure he doesn't have Matt Damon to thank for that.

The Best Car Blog (this one) is now the best iTunes Car Podcast (or Vodcast if you prefer)

Apparently, everyone and their mother has been obsessively watching Alex's CARmageddon and my first mini car movie Top Gear thing - L.A. MPG OutSmarted. YouTube has clearly had a hard time handling all these billions of foaming audiences. That must be why they say only like three people have watched the 2 videos I've posted so far. But, not to worry, if YouTube's not your cup of car awesome, you can now see this latest episode, featuring street interviews about the Smart ForTwo in Los Angeles - on iTunes! Eat that other car blog guys! Alex's Carmageddon is now an iTune that you can get by clicking on that button there - it launches iTunes and you can subscribe to get the latest videos in high quality on your iPod or iPhone or iPod Touch or whatever else you got for Hanakuh. And, obviously, it's totally free (some people I know though podcasts cost money - those people are dumbasses)

Or, I guess, if you're boring, you can still watch it here as a uTube. You can also subscribe with your Creative Zen MP3 player (i'd make fun, but I used to have one) OR pretty much any other way you want. Check out for all your options. 

Cadillac Ranch - Famous Buried Art Cars

As a tribute to America's best automobile, a collective of artists called Ant Farm decided to place 10 Cadillacs, ranging from a 1949 Club Coupe to a 1963 Sedan, in a wheat field located west of Amarillo, Texas. Mr. Stanley Marsh 3, a local helium tycoon, provided some place for the cars to rest. Ten big holes were dug and the cars were driven with their front end into them. Thus the Cadillac Ranch was born becoming the worlds most famous art cars, and as you can see they have undergone many paint jobs since their creation in 1974. Full story here.

Original Cadillacs

Cadillacs From Space

Multi Colored Cadillacs

Lit Up Cadillacs

White Cadillacs

Pink Cadillacs

Yellow Cadillacs

Red Cadillacs

Cadillac Fin close up

Skunk Art Car - Definetly NO Tailgating

Via Oddity Central

I found this stinky art car Oddity Central that was labeled "dog" art car but the window says "Kicking up a Stink" therefore we have to assume it's a "skunk" art car. Anyways, this guy has done a nice job with all the fur all over and the tail is in the "ready spray" position. This car is natures way of saying "don't tailgate me or else".

Bamboo Art Car - Car hatched in a Japanese Labatory

Via Oddity Central

Developed by Kyoto University Venture Business Laboratory the Bamboo Art Car named Bambgoo is a fully functional vehicle that runs for 50 kilometers on a single charge. This ecological concept car is 270 cm long, 130 cm wide, 165 cm high and only 60 kg heavy. The weird thing is that the body is made entirely out of bamboo and is available for short test drives in Japan, just watch out for the splinters.

Smart Car - Crash Test Video

Have you ever wondered how the small smart car would fair in an accident. Here is video of a 70 mile per hour accident into a concrete wall.

Hump Day

Good news: Thomas Lynch pleads “Guilty.” Remember – the roads are for everybody. That type of behavior is only acceptable behind a shopping cart on Black Friday, not the steering wheel.

Bad news: George Ryan is appealing to President Bush for clemency, after being left off the pardon list. The man who used state finances as his and his friend’s own private campaign financing, and probably has more than a little blood on his hands in the Licenses-For-Bribes-Scandal could get out of prison after having served less than a year.

Even worse news: It’s with Dick Durbin’s help. I know you are sympathetic, but people are dead because of this man. It's more than just political scandal.

More bad news: Thanks, China!

Better news: Traffic is much lighter today. Ironically, today is my first long Thanksgiving Eve drive, ever.

Cuter news: Meet our new dog, Jack

The best news: my new bike arrives sometime next week. A Max Lelli Tiburzi Pro, with Dura Ace/FSA and Hed Stinger 60 wheels.

Gimme Hed til I’m Deda.

Vincent Van Gogh Art Car VW - What Would Vincent Drive?

The Question is what Would Vincent Drive? or WWVD?. The answer is the Vincent Van Gogh VW Art Car painted like his Starry Night. I think he would have definitely given his other ear for this sweet painted VW Car. The VW bug for city driving and the VW Bus for long weekends in the country with the pop up shell for camping.

VW Bug

VW Bus front

Photo By Morgane

BMW Art Car by Frank Stella "The Hard Edge" - VIdeo

Go Vegan Art Car Limo - "Big Vegan" going after "Big Burger"

Photo by zephrene

The main message

Happy animals although I haven't had a monkey burger lately.

Tasty vegan snacks nicely arranged on leather seats

There is no better way to say "Go Vegan" than with a nicely painted stretch Vegan Limo Art Car, which sounds like an oxymoron at first. I guess if you are living in Texas you have to compete with all the other big stuff around. First there was "Big Oil" now there is "Big Vegan" coming around trying to mess with "Big Barbecue" and "Big Burger". I guess you won't be putting any long horns on the hood any time soon? I found this limo art car on Walking the Vegan Line inspired by vegan artist Peter Max for the 21st annual Houston Art Car Parade, a vegan-themed entry by the  Society of PEACE!. Nice Job!!!!

Atomic Ride Art Car - Back to the Future with Mad Max

Atomic Ride Art Car

The Lumick Art Car

I received these two amazing art cars from Mel who apparently has two more and a fifth on its way. The only way I can best describe both of his cars are "Back to the Future with Mad Max". His daily driver is an 88 Chevrolet called the Atomic Ride build in 2004, that won first place in the specialty class at a car show. It has air, tilt, cruse, CD player and a light bar that puts out 360 degrees of light. The second car is a 96 Chevrolet Lumina, that has 76 Buick La Sabare rear fenders and trunk lid called The Lumick. Although street legal he never drives it to the city but it's a big hit with the kids at parades. I am sure you are going to want to find out more about his other cars so you may contact Mel if you need more info. Mel you have done a great job and it seems you have found the secret to being a kid a heart. Let us know when the fifth car is done and we will post that one as well.


A trail of dusty footprints
Without one drop of sweat
Illuminated at morning,
In shadow towards sunset.
Over sun-baked earth they lead
Through wrinkled cracks, a desert shore
Five sides, five times their number
From the years before.
Not unquenchable is my thirst
For I know I walk towards rain
That growing storm is at the edge
And will soon bring relief and pain.
A passing shower, far ahead
Dampened the air, erased the age
With muddy skin, faceless, shiny
Slick and wet, a brand new page.
A coming deluge, a wall of power
A million drops of tears and grief
To slake my longing, end my waiting
Killing the unending heat beneath.
For now the steps are dry again
But the storm on the edge tests my will
I smell the heavy damp in the air
And the shadow behind grows longer still.

More Zebra Art Cars

There are so many darn Zebra art cars around that I had to post another round of them. I don't why the world has so many of these cars but there needs to be some research done into this phenomenon. Starting with this LImo...and beyond.

Blog Archive