14 January, 2009

For the love of old-fashioned wheels.

We dropped in on the classic car show and exchange in Nimes over the weekend, and the littlest one certainly got his automobile fix. Beyond cars, there was a whole range of wheels to check out: olde tyme bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, even wartime-modified Willys and Jeeps (with the tires removed, they rode on rails). Of the cars, the showstoppers were possibly among the Bugattis. There were a couple of pristine "one-of" Bugattis, and the collection was the most I'd ever seen together. They were brought together to mark the 100th anniversary of the company.

As is the case at these larger-scale events, there was a little something for everyone. There was the authentic available-for-rent, ultra-stretch white limousine (a bit worn), flanked by a generous number of US flags and a generously proportioned platinum blonde (also a bit worn). She was attempting, it appeared, to channel both Dolly Parton and a stiletto boot-lovin' Nevadan good-time girl. (My shots of her were blurred--unfortunately spoiled by my giggling). God bless America's image abroad...The man below had a pretty good setup: his display collapses and locks up for easy towing. Comfortable seating is built in, the better to hawk his "Eclator."
I've long been irritated by the merchandising of, well, everything (I mean beyond the nostalgia selling of old brands, as above). It can incense me, how so many vapidly surround themselves with labels and symbols. You can see Che Guevara's face everywhere on nearly anything, sported by people who have neither an inkling nor interest in what he did and stood for. The T-shirt vendor's display at the Nimes retro car show made me pause, however.
All symbols, not only Che's portrait, have been utterly drained of meaning. Whether historically significant or politically sensitive, they now serve as entertainment-lite, a way to present yourself (perhaps with pretensions toward hipness or irony) to other consumers.

Perhaps I need a glass of wine. And to settle down and play cars with my child.

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