For those of you following at home, I am proud to report that my Subaru - AKA "the Soob," "the Mountain Goat," "the Goat", and "The Superu" is alive and well. At 230,000 miles, it is a testament to the excellence of Japanese automotive engineering, and the enduring genius of Ferdinand Porsche's 4-cylinder horizontally opposed engine. The Subarus, until recently, were a refinement of an engine designed by Porsche in the 1930's - the original Volkswagen engine design.
After dying on me as I pulled off The 2, the Goat languished for some weeks at my mechanic's - Mauricio. Mauricio is cheap. Mauricio is honest to a fault. Mauricio is a brilliant mechanical technician in his own right - part engineer and part shaman. Maurico always walks me through the troubleshooting, always shows me the part, will actually dialog with me on what the problem might be. Of his many virtues as both an exemplary mechanic and human being, being fast is not one of them. My car has been there for going on three weeks. I was out of town the first week, in Portland, OR.
Admittedly, the problem was tricky. The engine would not hold compression, so it wouldn't cycle. At first, it looked as if this was caused by a broken exhaust valve spring. However, this only masked the root of a problem - one of the camshafts was broken, sheared in half. Miraculously, because I have poured love, hot and liquid, into that machine, because it is a built like a rolling brick shithouse, because I have, like all the Igloowhite family, good machine karma, nothing bent. Everything is snug as a drum and straight as an arrow.
I rode up there to pick up the car, a long bike ride of some 45 minutes each way. I stopped by my library along the way, to pick up James Ellroy's My Dark Places and the Crime Classification Manual (more reading on serial violence). Deep in Cypress Park, this library seems less like a place to borrow books and more like the outermost outpost of literacy and reason. When I say that people USE the library in LA, I mean it. They use the shit out of it. It's packed with screaming kids. It's part free day care center, study hall, and people's computing center. Reading the books really seems to have moved into some kind of ancillary category. Nobody speaks English, everyone's speaking Spanish. That isn't a value judgment - shit, it's their neighborhood library, people should be speaking in whatever modality makes communication simplest. But I'd be blowing sunshine up your ass if I didn't tell you that, as a tall, blonde white guy I feel like an interloper. I pick up my books, and head out.
Now - the entrance of the Library is narrow, with a shallow skirt of steps leading up to it. These steps basically cry out "Hang out on me!" to the young people of Los Angeles. Things are sufficiently hopping that they've filled up, all the way to the top, and now these two punk teenage boys are blocking the entrance. They are Latino and I am white. I stand there for a moment, and think about squeezing past. Then I get annoyed that they are blocking the entrance, with so many people coming and going. I say, "Excuse me," at a polite volume level. Nothing.
"Look kid - move it. You're blocking the goddamned entrance. Don't sit here." I am pissed when I say it. I mean, my mother didn't raise me up to jam up the damn stairs. It's inconsiderate. As a boy of 15, I would have been the recipient of The Dreaded Claw - a power that my mother possessed, capable of converting her ordinarily delicate hand into a taloned horror that could rend flesh from bone, particularly the meat of the upper arm, The Claw's preferred target.
The two boys move. They don't stand up, they just scoot over. I guess this is the best I can hope for. And then it hits me, I have just become the very stereotype they despise, the angry, rule-bound white male adult that barges in and fucks up their program. But later, on the ride home, I wonder if that’s just some kind of liberal guilt. If they had been a couple of punk ass white kids back in Blackburg, Virginia, my hometown, I would have felt *good* about telling them to move.
I don't want to become a grumpy old man. Is this what I have to look forward to for the next 70 or so years? Or does somebody just need to give those kids The Claw?