Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sports Cars and Sex

Get OFF the hood of my car, bitch!

Why is sports car sexiness the exclusive purview of men?  I’m so sick of it.  I just finished reading an article about a motorsport event at Goodwood, England, and for about the 500th time I’ve seen the love of beautiful cars compared to the love of beautiful women.  Where does that leave us women who love beautiful cars?  Admiring ourselves?  Shit out of luck, that’s where.

I love sports cars, muscle cars, old trucks, even some monster trucks, and for my Pinterest board called CarLust, I am constantly searching for great images.   (And men, don’t kid yourselves that Pinterest is for pussies.  There are plenty of guys who have car boards.) The problem is this:  half the glossy, colorful images I’d like to put on my board are ruined by some artificially enhanced young woman, thong jammed up her ass, getting fingerprints and boob smears all over a beautiful paintjob.

I understand this pleases and excites men.  They like to combine their visual pleasures in one package.  Why objectify just one thing when you can objectify two at the same time? Car culture is a male-dominated world.

How about photos of gorgeous cars with gorgeous men? Try Googling  “hot men + cars,” “male models + cars,” and what do you get?  Not much.  I tried Pinterest and found one board named “Fast Cars and Hot Men.”  There were lots of images of good looking men, and a few nice cars, but not the two together.  It’s just an equation that doesn’t exist.  Racy cars equals racy women.  Period.

Sports cars are sexy.  They are exciting.   Yeah, I know the visceral schwing! of motorsports.  Even without a penis, I know that.  I like to drive cars, shift their gears, rub them down with wax.  Gasoline?  Slightly cracking leather?  Hubba hubba!   I’ve been lucky enough to own a few cars that left me limp (or should I say rigid?) with desire.  I’ve stared at them in my garage, feeling like a 15-year-old boy who wakes up and finds supermodel Gisele Bundchen in his bed.

So, okay, what am I even asking for?  What would be equality here?  A picture of a young male hunk dry humping a Maserati?  That would look sweet, but, you know, that’s not what I really want to see, because frankly, I’d rather see a picture of the hunk with all his clothes on, looking cute, kind, and somewhat accessible, driving his car like a real human being.

I don’t want fan-based equality at motorsports events, either. What the guys have, calibrated to please women? Do women really want to see the hottest boys from the local modeling agency strutting around in G-strings offering us power drink samples while we line up to have our pictures taken with them?  Would our boyfriends and husbands laughingly indulge us as we gaped at the pecs and packages of these young gods?  Probably some women would like it.  Sure, there’s always the male-revue-loving sister who joyfully hollers and shoves $50 bills down some dude’s nut holder.  But for many women, the cars and the racing competition would be sufficient without the beefcake parade.

Lots of women love cars.  Some of us love them so much that we gamely tolerate the visual clutter of unrealistically gorgeous women that apparently adds value to automotive forums and events.

(I won’t even digress into the unhealthy body image this shit promotes: to young women who think they should look that way; to older women too old to, well, look that way anymore; to young men and geezers who now expect that level of hotness in their companions; and frankly, to the young models themselves, many of whom are probably starving to fit into those size 0 shorts while they spent $4,000 on a boob job instead of a semester at college, just so they could land this weekend gig at the racetrack.)  Okay, sorry, that constituted a digression.

Back to Pinterest.  Women and cars share a rich pictorial history. I’ve collected a whole bunch of images of retro chicks posing with cars, like the great Linda Vaughn as Miss Hurst Shifter, and just cute girls out for a day of mischief with their cars.

Linda Vaughn astride a giant Hurst shifter

Linda Vaughn astride a giant Hurst shifter

(from legendsofnascar.com)

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint where the appeal deteriorates, but auto pinups from the past few decades make women look like sluts.  For example, let’s just take my favorite car, the Porsche, which is unfortunately plagued with a host of clichés about male virility or lack thereof.

Here are some images.  The first three come from reader thread on Pelican Parts, an online automotive parts supplier.  This first image is a trifecta for me – great vintage attire, Porsche 356, nice black and white composition – an instant pin.tumblr_lzh6gpZmU91r6nlevo1_4001329566717

Here are some cute girls having fun with their Porsche, probably at the beach.  They have some fast food on the roof.  One of them appears to be in her underwear.  It’s fun, sexy, probably something I would’ve done at their age. Pin it.tumblr_lz1e2kP4DT1rp4qemo1_5001329567040

Here is a young woman fueling her Porsche.  She appears to have lost her underpants.  But, being a Porsche lover, I understand how this might happen.  You are overcome with excitement about driving your car and simply forget to put all your clothes on before you go to the filling station.   It’s kind of piggish but kind of funny, like some dirty old German men talked her into doing it for money, so I pin it to a board that I share with a couple of my girlfriends who understand exactly why I think this is funny.

tumblr_lz57xawBDv1r0oo0ao1_5001329566702

Now this next young woman, well, she just appears to be having an uncomfortable seizure on the hood of a Porsche 996.   This is where, as a woman, I say, “Gross!”  Or, if I’m a man, I say, “Fuck Yeah!”

3711-2-com.custom.lwp.Touch3DPorschePinUpGirl

(image courtesy http://androidapp.lisisoft.com)

Okay, I might pin it to one of my boards, but just to ridicule it. We’ve gone from beautiful car=beautiful women to beautiful car=writhing slut.

Women are, for better or worse, more complicated than men in terms of sexual desire and visual stimulation.  Men see women as the sum of their body parts. Women weave tangled webs of fantasy around our objects of desire.

Let’s test drive this idea.  I look at a picture of vintage Porsche 964.  I don’t think it could be improved by a nearly naked man lying down on it.  In fact, I would be quite concerned about him denting the hood. I imagine taking the car out for a country drive.  Just the sound of that air cooled engine is amazing.   The downshift around corners.  Then I start thinking about the exterior color.

I might even want to put Nordic hunk Alexander Skarsgard in the passenger seat.  Or even in the driver’s seat, if I really like him.  Then, I know! We could stop and have a romantic picnic with champagne and strawberries.  There would be lots of romantic talking and kissing and maybe eventually sex.  Or if you want to have a kinkier 50 Shades of Gray date, maybe we fetch some blindfolds and rope from the backseat and we tie each other up.   But at no time do I want to look up from rummaging in the picnic basket for champagne or extra handcuffs and see poor Alex arranged like a piece of meat, his manhood throbbing next to the Porsche hood emblem.  (Unless he was posing in an ironic way to mock his sex symbol status, of course.)

See how this goes?   This is a whole silly fantasy, not just a bunch of body parts on a poster. I give up.  Men and women are too different.

Here’s an actual photo of the actual Mr. Skarsgard with his actual Porsche, and actually, this is cuter to me than a glossy beefcake shot.  At least, that’s my story until they start making calendars.  In the meantime, this one’s going on my CarLust board.

tumblr_mevryjmU8C1qc5buuo1_500-1

(from santresstumblr.com)

I love the cars. I respect the cars. And I respect you, too, sir, far too much to let you make an idiot of yourself by asking you to stick your ass out just a little bit more, please, as you hover over my rear spoiler.  Snap!  Great shot, babe!

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Getting Passed By a Schoolbus

A few days ago I had arthroscopic knee surgery.   This has been a big lesson in slow-the-fuck-down.  Too much jumping around in Zumba and too many years of jogging, I think.  Everything went well and I’m mending in bed, wallowing in a sea of fashion magazines, pug hair, pistachio shells, books, and my own body odor because I am not allowed to bathe and get my knee dressings wet.   Sammy the pug is really happy.  Uninterrupted mommy-time where I do nothing but sit in bed with him, from sunrise to sunset, is his dream come true.

So, yesterday, I went to get my bandages removed at the orthopedic surgeon’s office.  I asked my mother-in-law Gloria to drive me because I can’t drive my own clutch, manual transmission cars, and I wasn’t sure what sort of shape I’d be in when I left their office.   Gloria has her own issues with driving these days.  She popped a Xanax and we cruised at 40 mph the whole 45-minute trip.  At one point, we got passed by a school bus. Pretty much a life metaphor right now.

Oh my gawwwwd, when the nurse removed the bandages and wiped my itchy skin with alcohol, it felt soooo good.  I wanted to scream, “Don’t stop, don’t stop!”  This must be what my dogs feel when I’m scratching their butts and they’re clicking their teeth in ecstasy, what Hannibel Lecter feels as his jaw shudders at the prospect of eating his friend’s liver with fava beans and chianti.  Then my surgeon came in and said my knee had been a “complicated scene” when he saw it in surgery, because while the meniscus was in pretty good shape and he scraped troublesome stuff away, I had a couple of tears that required tacks.  Both he and his nurse emphasized that I cannot dislodge these tacks, which means no impact for the next 2-3 weeks.  Here I’d been really proud of myself for gimping into their office with nothing more than a cane for support and very little discomfort. Now they say I am better off using crutches or a walker so I don’t overstress the knee.  I still cannot get the site wet.  “How am I supposed to take a bath or shower?”  I asked.  “Well, you can arts-and-crafts it any way you want,” said my doctor.  “Just don’t get it wet and don’t do anything stupid like go in a hot tub.”   I gave the walking stick back to Gloria and told her that I might need her crutches and walker, after all.

This is a truism of surgery, I guess.  Your doctor makes it sound minor and asserts how you will be back up to 100% in no time.  The reality is that you operate at about 25% for a really long time, and it takes a huge toll on your family life, work, fitness, household routine, and self-image.

My life has gone from me being an ADD-fueled monkey, jumping (and often screaming at the other monkeys in the house)  from one floor to another, switching tasks and activities at the slightest change of my mental channel, to a kind of wounded, silent tortoise, cramming as many purposeful tasks into slow, deliberate movements to exert as little effort and impact on my knee as possible.  At some point, I just peeled off my clothes because I was sick of feeling sweaty and grubby.  My husband liked that at first.  Now I am stumbling around naked, with a walker, like some kind of elder-porn.   This cannot be attractive, but he is wise enough not to say anything.

I’m feeling guilty about my complete exclusion from the household honey-do roster.  Nobody hollers at me or asks me to do anything.  Husband has to do EVERYTHING  like feeding the dogs, shoveling their poop off the beach, giving them supplements and eye drops,  feeding us humans, loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, collecting the trash and dirty dishes from all three floors.  This morning after he cleaned up some dog barf, I just didn’t have the heart to remind him that Wednesday is recycling day and that he needed to take all the household bins to the curb before he left for work.

So here’s all the good stuff about being stuck in bed for days on end.  I’m getting all kinds of shit done, like:

1.  Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of reading.  September issues of Vogue and Elle, essays on how we’ve fucked up in the Middle East, the works of Albert Murray, a new-to-me Swedish mystery writer named Ake Edwardson, the brilliantly fun memoirs of Grace Coddington, and a true-dat tale of working in the public library called World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne and a story of his uneasy coexistence with Tourette’s Syndrome.   I’m reading through the blog archives of Stuff White People Like , which turns nearly every word, gesture, and thought of my existence into a hysterical cliche.  In fact, I wish this blog hadn’t ended in 2010 because it’s been sort of liberating to feel that every breath I take, every move I make, has been somehow pre-ordained by the all-knowing hyperaware Christian Lander.

Slow DOWN

Slow DOWN

2.  Starting a Pinterest board about Andre Leon Talley.  Now,  you KNOW this was something that everyone wanted to see.

3.  Finally watching the last season of The Wire on dvd and episodes of Lewis on Netflix.  (See above-mentioned Stuff White People Like  post about how white people love The Wire.)

4.  Actually replying to some emails from friends, instead of thinking that I’ll do it later when I can compose my thoughts and then never responding.

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Europa, Europa

ImageThis was the car, yellow plus some black stripes down the back, that launched a hundred stares and whispers among the Edgewater Elementary Bobcats when my dad dropped me off at school every morning.  I was in second grade in 1972, and at that age everyone wants to think their parent is cool.  This was almost too cool. It was embarrassing.  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, in our tiny Florida coastal town had a car like this.  Most people were still driving family Buick and Ford leftovers from the 1960’s.  They clunked.  This car had a tiny, quick Renault 16 engine the size of a sewing machine.  In the utter slackjawed silence that followed in its abnormal wake, people had plenty of time to hear its exotic whine. 

Dad already was susceptible to the lure of fun cars, and he hit the red line with this one.  He’d already owned a Jaguar XK150 , a convertible Datsun,  a TR3,  a couple of Plymouth Road Runners.  He doesn’t remember what car he was driving when he saw the Lotus at an exotic used car dealer in Melbourne, but he promptly traded in whatever it was.  The price of the car then was around $3,600 before trade.  (I know — sweet Jesus!)

To say he had fun in the car was an understatement. The only time he was overtaken was by a Dino Ferrari.  One fine day, cruising down a dirt road at about 100 mph, he flipped the Lotus into the Florida undergrowth.  He emerged unscathed and walked  to a friend’s house to call a tow truck.  The truck operator thought Dad was crazy because the Lotus was so tiny that the palmetto scrub completely concealed it.  “Damn, there is a car in there,” he finally said, and pulled it out.  The fiberglass body was pretty much okay, but now there was sand lodged in the already-temperamental little engine. Nobody could sooth or tune the poor thing properly in our neck of the woods, so Dad eventually traded it on another fun British mess, a Jensen Healey.  

Some years ago, I had a fun chance to ride around the Sebring track and all through the pit and vendor area in a newer Lotus with my friend Randy Pobst.  It took me back to the days of just me and my Dad riding around in the nimble little Europa. “Like driving in a bathtub,” Dad says.

The little British Lotus was marketed to the US in 1969 with a 1,565 cc Renault engine.  In 1971, a 105 hp Ford engine was offered, making this latter SE model the more desirable.  Today, a Europa from the 1970s, restored, rebuilt, and in decent shape,  generally costs anywhere from $14,000 to $25,000

Anybody got one I can drive?   (interior photo courtesy of Hagerty Classic Car Price Guide)Image

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Drafting in the Boys’ Room at SOM

01BLOCKS-inline-articleInlineArchitect Nathalie de Blois passed from this world a few days ago on July 22, at the age of 92.  I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know about her.   Playing a man’s game, she worked for the powerhouse architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s.   She, along with her much-better-known mentor and work partner Gordon Bunshaft, designed the famous Lever House in 1960, a bright star in the firmament of midcentury architecture.  She also played a significant design role in the Pepsi-Cola Corporation World Headquarters and Union Carbide Corporation Headquarters.  There’s a great New York Times article (see link below) that places her in the context  of her Mad Men world, a major talent with minimum exposure,  a team player who stayed in the office and ate sandwiches while her colleagues entertained clients at men’s clubs during the long, two-martini lunch hours of the time period.  Obviously, she was not invited to attend those lunches.  Gordon Bunshaft had the piggish audacity to tell her that he hated the color green, and if she wanted to accompany him to a client meeting for the International Arrivals Building at Idlewild Airport, she would have to go home and change her dress.  She did it.  Those were the rules.  When she was pregnant with one of her sons, Bunshaft also told her not to come to a party for a building opening unless she’d had her baby.  Whether he was fearful that she’d go into labor during the festivities, or he was just uncomfortable with her baby belly, who knows?  It’s probably a testament to her talent that she wasn’t let go from SOM on some flimsy excuse just for being pregnant.

The Lever House, 1960

The Lever House, 1960

Her father was an engineer, and she got a design-and-construction bag of genetic goodies from him.  More importantly, she got encouragement.  I firmly believe that a woman’s confidence and behavior in the world is  largely determined by the level of faith and support that her father offers.  Nathalie’s father supplied a firm foundation.  Even though she admitted, in a late-life interview, that her feelings were hurt by male colleagues, she never stopped working or believing in the value she brought to the profession.

The New York Times quotes  Nathaniel A. Owings, a founding partner of SOM, in his autobiography, The Spaces In Between: An Architect’s Journey: “Her mind and hands worked marvels in design — and only she and God would ever know just how many great solutions, with the imprimatur of one of the male heroes of S.O.M., owed much more to her than was attributed by either S.O.M. or the client.”

Read the New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/nyregion/an-architect-whose-work-stood-out-even-if-she-didnt.html?hp

A more extensive interview for the Chicago Architects Oral History project: 15893

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