Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bash For Clunkers

Well, it finally happened. After nearly five, All-American, four wheel driving, gas guzzling, turn over risking years, my dear old 2000 Dodge Durango is headed off into the sport utility sunset courtesy of the recent Cash For Clunkers program. As they say, the Good Lord giveth and the Good Lord taketh away. For my Durango, the Good Lord was my pops, Mr. Lee, who in his undecipherable, infinite wisdom bought this pre-owned motoring monstrosity which become my de facto car and it was Mr. Lee who decided he wanted to cash it in on the new federal plan and get a new minivan. While I certainly won't miss the distinct pleasure of cruising at a combined 12 mpg and essentially driving the real life equivalent to a Canyonero; I won't be completely excited to see it go. I will miss the elevated ride, the feeling of highway superiority that came with it, along with its uncanny ability to remain virtually unscathed in any parking lot fender bender; and, despite all my knocks against it, it still dependably got me where I wanted to go for the last five years, albiet in a laughably inefficient manner. However, I take heart in the fact that the cycle of Detroit based automotive life continues on in the Lee household; as one Chrystler company car is laid to rest, it is replaced by yet another Chrystler automobile: a 2009 Town & Country. So, in the end, domestically produced life goes on.

With all the new car buying and Cash For Clunker research and participation I've been engaged in recently, it sort of feels neat to be at the forefront an ongoing national new story. When the Today Show or the nightly news runs their little piece on American households taking advantage of the new program, I can say that's us. Now I know the feeling of identity (minus the feeling of embarassment) and participation fat people must feel like when they see all those news pieces about rampant American obesity with anonymous mid level shots of other fat people walking around in public.

While going through some recent headlines about the ongoing Cash for Clunkers program, I came across this rather novel perspective on the whole program. Really, no one in the mainstream media has covered this angle of the Cash For Clunkers story. All over this country there'll be hundreds of thousands of outdated, inefficient automobiles that are statutorily required to be destroyed one away or another, so why not let the local Tiger Schulmann's branch in on the fun? Okay, so the writer of the article may not appear to be the most credbile of experts on the matter (you wouldn't see too many shirtless muscle poses in the New York Times Op-Ed section) and the act of trying to destroy a multiple ton, solid steel automobile using martial arts seems potentially dangerous; but there is no denying the universal joy one gets from watching a car get destroyed.

I don't know about you, but my favorite part of those old Capcom SNES fighting/beat-em up games like "Final Fight" and "Street Fighter II" were the intermittent bonus levels that involved destroying a car with your character in a set amount of time. You would not believe how disappointed I was when "Street Fighter IV" came out sans car breaking bonus round (not even the slightly less entertaining barrel breaking round was to be found). It was a unforgivable missed opportunity by Capcom that deprived the world of beautifully HD-rendered 21st century, timed, century car smashing joy. It's what the people would have wanted. It's a ceaseless, inherent, primal desire for destruction and domination over our physical word that stretches through the ages from primitive Neanderthal rites of passages all the way to Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff".

So who knows? Perhaps this mass public car destroying fad will actually emerge and people all over America could take out their pent up daily frustrations by destroying or vicariously finding release in watching others destroy an old Ford Explorer or Dodge Ram. And just to give a crude rendering of what such a martial arts based scrapping of a car would look like and how it would be equal parts awesome and ridiculous, here's one man who is already living the dream:

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