The Almighty Automobile And Me!

Greg Beale
5 min readJul 30, 2018


Of late, as the wildfires in California become deadlier, I have noticed an marked increase in automobile advertisements. This may be because I am so impressed by the power of the oil lobby and the automobile cabal. Or it maybe because I am watching so much more television (binge watching) because I can’t go outside because of the smoke from the wildfires. Probably?

Anyway, every car manufacturer is pounding away with car commercials. Praising the automobile, how much sexier it will make me (I am 71 years old and way past my prime), how many gadgets it has, the power, the freedom; why your car identifies you, classifies your sexuality, your character, your very personality.

That is right, this is bullshit. I remember in the 60s (not 1860s by the way, smart ass) when a car was as long as a football field with fins to make it more aerodynamic. Of course that was bullshit. The cars then could go about as fast as those today. In fact, the cars then were not much different than those of those of today, except for the bells and whistles (like air conditioning)

Anyway, the fins were nonsense, since science proved the car would have to go over 400 miles an hour to need the damn fins. But they were so cool!

My roommate in college borrowed my car and drove to San Jose from Stanford to take out his fiance. He rushed into the fraternity and told me someone was following him all the way to San Jose and back again. We went out to the car, half expecting to find a group of thugs intent on stealing my 1960 green Plymouth we called the fish….it did look like a large barracuda. Anyway we asked my friend what was he seeing, and he breathlessly told us a green car was following him in the driver side lane all the way to San Jose and back. I got in the car and looked in the side mirror, which was not adjusted correctly and saw…..the damned fin!

In the 1960s gasoline was like $.25 a gallon. Even adjusted for inflation that made gasoline about as expensive as water. And we burned it like water. Man, how we burned it. We raced, we drove until we dropped, we drank and drove, we had drag races, we drove and drove the drove.

And the more we drove the worse the damn things sounded, which was the idea. The noisy car was the hot car…the car you never protected from anything because it was a mark of masculinity.

And we filled the atmosphere with a thing called smog that choked you when you got up, burned your chest, and later killed a bunch of us.

It also, apparently, ruined the atmosphere, and now we have this damn heat. But we don’t believe that, do you?

I mean it is damn hot! My conservative friends say it is some epoch or something and in a few thousand years it will change back to the cool summer evenings I can barely remember. But man had nothing to do with it and scientists are nuts. Shit, I can dig that, I say as I turn the key once again and the four barrel kick into life!

And we couldn’t have screwed up, we were kids, later adults who drove two, or three cars, and drove and drove. We created suburbs that were dozens of miles from our work, we drove and drove and drove.

And now, in the Bay Area, some of my neighbors in Sacramento drive everyday to San Jose to work and back. That is a cool 3 hour drive one way, more if there is traffic and there always is traffic.

But the television ads keep telling us that a car is your ticket to popularity and success. And after all, you can always work in your car. I see it all the time, people texting, talking, even trying to type on a fucking computer and sending off pdf files to their office. They crash into each other from time to time, causing the rest of us to sit for hours on the freeways (which are more like prisons) but we have the digitial music to listen to, and some even can get a T.V. to watch.

Thursday, its Sunday now in Sacramento, a wild fire suddently turned on my hometown of Redding and nearly burned it to the ground. The damn thing was so strong that it created its own weather, kind of like Dresden Germany during the air strikes of WWII. The firefighters say they haven’t seen anything like that (you see that a lot in the papers and on T.V. now a days).

But shit, I need to save up a little more money and I can get an R.V., so when we have to evacuate we don’t have to wait in line for a motel room.

We, the baby boomers, led the United States and the world into the automobile age. We threw away passenger trains, and Greyhound Buses, (that I used to ride before I got my 1960 Plymouth in 1966 to drive from Redding to Palo Alto) were phased out pretty much five years ago.

Only the poor and the homeless ride the buses here in Sacramento. And the light rail passenger use is just that….light.

So we drive and drive and drive…we watch the morning news at 6:00 a.m. for the freeway news, then set off on our way to work for the hours long commute. But after all, we needed to move to the suburbs to get away from those people, you know the immigrants who talk funny, that our President is trying to get rid of.

So we drive and drive and drive. And this nonsense of global warming is nonsense..what’s a 114 degree day (that is what the temperature was when Redding nearly burned up), when we have air conditioning.

And this nonsense about running out of oil is a liberal plot to make bigger government; that’s what Fox told me and they would not lie. Oil companies are our friends. Strange you don’t see many commercials from them anymore…I guess they don’t have to advertise…I wonder why?

It is a shame that a great grandmother and her two great grandchildren burned to death in Redding a couple days ago because they got trapped by the fire tornado that blew up their trailer.

Have you seen the latest Toyota commercial about their new Truck? Christ the thing can pull a house, and even though the closest I will ever get to a farm is miles away, I have to have it….it will make the coolest 71 year old on the block.

What the fuck right?? It’s all about ME! Live fast, drive fast, drive forever….my grandkids can figure it out…except for those two kids in Redding that won’t be figuring anything out ever again.



Greg Beale

Stanford grad, BA Political Science, MA from Sac State in Government. 36 years in public education as teacher, coach, athletic director, and administrator.