The Dicta Smith - Unwritten Rules of the Road

Hello, lovers! I haven’t posted in a while and it is my determination to only bring you the best I can out of my feeble brain. Bear with me as I struggle through something well all know and love: Driving.

It was my intention to actually write a book and publish it on this, namely one on Seattle drivers. Who does that anyway? Not I, got no connections! So, I’ll spill my valuable insights on this and look forward what you think of these ideas. 

Back in the early days of flight, a gentleman German pilot, Hauptmann (Captain) Oswald Boelcke, wrote a short discourse on how to stay alive while being a fighting man in an aircraft. The Dicta Boelcke, it turns out, has stayed relevant from its debut in 1916 through today.

In my brain over a couple decades driving in Seattle I have written what I consider the Dicta Smith. The most difficult part about this for me was trying to constrain myself to only a list of ten items because our traffic, what with its retinue of timid, cell phone (self) obsessed drivers leaves a few more slots to be desired. Yes, Boelcke kept his to 8 but he could never envision the soulless Toyota Camry or various models of Subaru.

iu.jpeg

You’ve been stuck here before

You’ll notice it now.

With that I present to you the Dicta Smith. I’d love to hear feedback — particularly if you are an apologist or wish to defend any of the behaviors I find road rage inducing. 

 The Dicta Smith 

1. Use your turn signal every time. Adjust and use your mirrors.

Yes, I crammed two obvious items into one section. Listen, you selfish neutron, you are not the only person on the road. Using a turn signal is to allow other accommodating drivers into our world, namely one in which the idea is to keep traffic moving.  If you have no idea how to adjust your mirrors for driving (no, you don’t) you may find me here to explain it.

2. Drive like you are following yourself and you have somewhere to go. Otherwise keep right.

These are not posted in any particular order of importance because if they would be, I’d put this at number one. If you drive and can’t wrap your head around this idea, it is just time to give up and Uber or take the bus. Your contribution to driving culture, hell getting anywhere, just isn’t enough.

3. Yield your lane to a car overtaking you regardless of speed. You're not a safety officer.

In Washington State the law is to keep right except to pass. If someone is overtaking you in your lane, it is not your job to modulate their speed, be a police officer or administer judgement. It is merely to move to the right preferably as soon as you can. Likewise, if you are merely pacing traffic in the left lane, get the heck to the right so you can get back to FaceTiming. We implore you. I suppose you can feebly turn your brights on after the driver goes by to “prove a point” but frankly we’re not looking in our rear view mirrors because we’re driving forward.

Here is a list of states and their laws regarding Keep Right. If per chance you look up your state and it does not have one — just help move your people ahead about 80 years and practice doing it now. The way some laws in other states are going you may need to GTFO of yours sooner or later anyway.

4. Do not move into a lane to your left (i.e., cut off another car) unless current velocity allows greater velocity going forward.

Another no brainer. After you’ve adjusted your mirrors correctly (see #1) use the brain the Universe provided you. You are born knowing calculus even if you’ve never taken a class. The same thing that allows you to throw a ball and get even remotely close to your intended target is the same instinct you should use when looking to your left and whether to move into that lane. If your Camry can’t hot foot it enough to get up to speed, simply wait for that car to pass before moving over.

You’re not the only car on the road.

5. Honk at people looking down at their cell phones or not paying attention to the road.

Here is where it gets funny because this unwritten rule of road is strictly illegal. With that warning and if you’ve mastered the “love tap” of a car horn by all means shock these people back to the task at hand. Chances are the life you safe may be your own, which on a cosmic scale is worth a few percent more than people who can’t put driving first.

6. If you are first at a green light your only job is to set off as quickly as possible.

This is a rejoinder to #5. There is zero excuse for the first person in line to lose even a tenth of a second to their vanity and cellphone usage. In fact if you’re first in line you must for the sake of the 4th car in line act as if you care that they’re on the road fo the same reason as you: to make it to a destination regardless of whose birthday it is on Facebook at the moment.

7. Eject nothing from your car. This includes all substances - littering is of poor character.

This is another holdfast rule from most everywhere I have driven. If your state has a law that states otherwise, I’d love for you to show it to me because I may detour through there on my next road trip just to say I did. That 60s feeling of just tossing a Coke bottle out the window is so bad it must feel good.

8. One ejecting anything from their vehicle is open immediately to retaliation from vehicles behind.

So here in a second instance I have done you wrong again. Just above you see I told you that this is illegal. Well, according the Dicta Smith you may fire if fired upon. Just be smart about it. Maybe a pink eraser or a wadded up paper ball that won’t damage the cigarette flinging Ford F-350. The point of it all is to let the driver know you caught him and that you do not appreciate ash in the cabin of your clean machine.

To tie it all together: Check your mirror before overtaking, avert your eyes completely from your Galaxy 10, reach for your nonlethal projectable and make your righteous move. Aim for center mass (the hood or the windshield) as they are both built to take much worse than you’re dishing out.

The target driver will be apoplectic that you’d dare to live up to his standards of littering and auto bombing but I think, especially here, if good old Boelcke were here today he just may understand the fight fire with fire method. Of course, he’d prefer that you turn into the enemy but we do not have that third dimension he had in the sky. Playing chicken over a cigarette butt in your car is hardly sport. Also, even if you fail to overtake the attacker you can seek solace in the fact you have kept one less cigarette butt off the ground. They are well known bird killers and we all know only sick children should be shooting those birds with their BB guns.

9. It is never possible to know too much about what is going on around you.

This would be a trick question to anyone after Generation Z. Upon reading this I imagine an agglomeration of millennials reaching straight to their phones to determine how far above sea level they are. No, no, no. It is easier than that! Head up, over the dash and out the windows! Look left, then right, then left again and take a look at who may be crossing the street. Look to see where the Toyota Prius overdrove the stop line and is half blocking a direction and refusing to back up. You’ve now just armed yourself to navigate this intersection!

10. While using a horn in a non-emergency is illegal most places, publicly shaming a poor/inattentive driver is worth the risk.

I was going to tie this in with cell phone shaming but cell phone use is an epidemic that hurts all of us so I gave that a stand alone (remember, just one or two *love taps* to shock those flouting everyone’s time and the law). If you do it correctly they may not even know who exactly honked at them or believe it was just a sound on their hip hop.

Number Ten, however, lends itself to what I call “laying on the horn” type action. Again, this is illegal but still stands as an unwritten rule for a reason. I once traumatized a driver by laying on my horn for a good 3 minutes after she nearly wrecked our cars. Three minutes is just a bit less than Van Halen’s Panama which, come to think of it, is about driving too. At first she was quite flippant but I assure you after 3 minutes of getting on the onramp, merging and driving at 60MPH for another minute this person may very well may be being treated for PTSD still today.

If risking Car Horn Induced Traumatic Stress Disorder (CHITSD) is used properly, there is the smallest of chances that if someone finds they missed their turn, next time they will simply take the next exit, spend 60 seconds and circling back rather than risk swapping paint.

So there we go, fellow motorists. How have you sinned recently? What are you doing to do to change your evil ways? Let us know in the comments or you may email me at adam.c.smith@me.com and maybe I’ll post your thoughts in a followup blog.

As always thanks for reading.

The Buick and the Whale Tail Mustang 5.0 - April, 2007

A clear and dry night coming up Highway 18 East Bound

It was after 10PM on a Saturday night and Band On The Run was playing through the iPod (yeah, remember those). Already shaking in rain the Riv has already bombed up the hill as only drivers who give into their impulse to get up the hill give into. 

By time the Highway 18/I-5 interchange had come up, I thought the adrenaline would have burned off but thanks to a late 80’s 5.0L Mustang (White) heard cackling and merging – and pulling hard exiting the off ramp to Highway 18 the fuse, apparently, was re-lit. 

It was irresistible and in an instant the torque-y Buick downshifted from 1600RPM and 65MPH to 3rd gear out of Overdrive. From a roll the Buick easily walked the Mustang and he took it as a personal affront, as well he should have. 

 
3.8L Gen II Huffer

The next light was too busy and both street racers knew it so we rolled a few blocks.

Finally, after having enough time to disable traction control for the coming launch, our cars rolled to a stop. 

I pre-loaded the transmission and got the supercharger into producing some boost as the light was about to turn. The Mustang turns out to be a manual transmission as I can hear the slight bog at the light. We launched hard, the Riv’s torque spinning the tires off the line and grabbing quickly thanks to the dry street. 

After the light there was a downhill bank. The cars are evenly matched handling wise, but the heavy throttle through the turn had both cars asking everything of their tires. Traffic loomed up ahead in my lane so I backed off the throttle, not wishing to ask anymore of the hot tires on my car. The Mustang was behind me a half-car length at least and this easing off gave him an opening to jump in front.The next light ahead had four cars in each lane so we both shut down. 

Always liked the lines of the Riviera
To stop at the light, even though I was light on the brakes, the ABS kicked in a bit. I guess slowing down from 70 even in dry might have some uneven wheel spin. The best thing about this ending was the thumb up from the Mustang driver. The second best thing was as we shut down and coasted, loping down the street, we passed two of Federal Way’s finest watching the streets on a Saturday night. My guilty conscience assumed they were waiting for us… but no. I guess the Rivira is pretty quiet.


Maybe they thought I was driving an old man’s car.

Chevy Guy Drives A Ford

Well, I am a General Motors nut. More specifically, I really love Chevrolets. I've owned many and my latest one is very nice - but someone needs it more than I do so I've gifted it.


2000 Mustang with giant tires

My ride is a 2000 Mustang. My best friend won an auction ($350!) and isn't driving it so I'm taking care of it. It is a 2000 Mustang 5-speed. It has a 3.8L V6 - not the V8. It does not make it less fun to drive!

The Mustang really reminds me of my first car. Long hood, snarling and actually shifting the gears brings back memories of my teenage years driving the mean streets of Renton and Kent.






The modifications are a short throw shifter and some bad ass 18" wheels with very low profile tires. We have a couple superchargers that we've bought - can't decide to use the roots type or the vortec. I'm including a blurry pic of them - and I'll report back.

The 3.8 V6 is already a torque monster - easily spinning the tires in first and second gear and the Mustang is light. The big meaty tires will help get more power down and I'm interesting in seeing how the "huffer" will add power. Bigger fuel injectors are already done so we're ready to bolt on a re-program.



Here is a little video of the short throw shifter 1st-2nd shifter at work.



I didn't know how much delight I'd get from driving this rig, and I'm having a blast! 



On Saturday I got on the road around 10PM and carved up I-90 just to get some fun driving in. The roads were empty and the twists were a blast. 





I drove to Cashmere and back - and on the way back I used ALL of the highway! Nobody to worry about at 2AM!

So, if you're an adult that misses the good old days - they're still here. Go find yourself a nice used car and get driving!





Shame - Fall 1992

Sorry it has been awhile since I've posted, life has gotten pretty busy these last two months.

Today I bring you a story of shame. Believe it or not, kids do stupid things often. This little story is one of those times.

An acquaintance wanted to show me his Camaro so four of us piled into his white 1977. It was a 350, automatic. And so we headed out towards the highway for some evening cruising.
This is not the exact car, but you get the idea

Now, like I said, we were just teenagers and being goofy. What I'm about to relate to you should never be reenacted because today some kook would shoot you.

As we were cruising out on Interstate 5 North towards Seattle, it was past dusk and well into night. The radio is going, we're talking cars and then one of my friends in the back seat found a survival knife at his feet.

Being the kids we were, of course we had to flash it at drivers - in jest of course. Of course someone in another vehicle doesn't hear the laughter or pick up on the goofiness that is going on in our car. The car we were passing had a woman in the car and she took a look at the knife and calmly dipped into her purse.

You've heard the witticism, "don't bring a knife to a gunfight?"

Well, I've lived this witticism and, yeah, don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

Silhouetted against the headlights of other cars on the road, the woman pulled what looked to me as a .38 revolver. What isn't in dispute is that it was a hand gun! As if we had been in tangles with guns before, we all ducked (like it would help) including the driver!
Kinda like this

As the driver ducked his arm kicked the shifter out of drive into neutral! So all his flooring of the throttle was doing nothing for a few seconds until I kicked it back into drive.

The woman had to be laughing now. We laughed - but it was a bunch of nervous laughter knowing that we just had a valuable lesson in driving etiquette. Namely, no need to get aggressive with other random drivers.

So, kids, this is a lesson of what not to do. 

I'm happy to be your mentor for driving scenarios and you can take this one to heart.

You Can't Fly Underground, 1990

If I titled this story what it should be titled it would give away the punchline so, since my life is an open book, I just wanted to be straightforward with you on that one.

As you know my best friend and I both owned fire breathing Pony Cars in high school. We'd take turns driving to school as while 8 cylinders are just right for a fast car, 16 is too many to just drive to school and work so we economized.

Another friend that lived close somehow ended up part of this deal so we had three cars at our disposal so it made no sense to do anything other than accept another 4 cylinders into our carpool.

I cannot recall if his parents bought the car for him or if he was able to just drive it whenever he wanted but, I think, his parents bought him a new 1990 Nissan Sentra. I am pretty sure Sentra means "square face and ass" in Japanese but I don't know Japanese so I can't bet more than $1 on it.

This is not my friends Nissan Sentra, it is a representation. Stop looking at pictures and read.

Well, today was the Nissan's duty to drive us four sophomores to school. Oh, and if you're asking how I know this particular Nissan Sentra is not said Nissan Sentra, it is because said Nissan Sentra is either rusted out, has mildew problems or has enough electrical problems to have driven whoever owned it next insane.

How do I know this?

I know it because I was in the passenger seat. On this day in the Greater Seattle Area it rained above average. Which means it rained "a lot". Plus, kids, todays drive to school took a diversion down a road that we never really drove down. It was a residential area and to this day I cannot remember why we diverted down it.

Picture a long, straight residential road, no speed bumps and oh about 1/4 mile of distance in a 25MPH zone. As my particular friend that was driving was not all that daring a kid (read: more mature than myself) we were doing 25MPH. When what to our wondering eyes did appear but a little bit of water running over the roadway.

As the intrepid Nissan rolled over this water, it became instantly apparent that this road was not "perfectly flat". Soon the water was ½ way up the tires and wheels. We pressed on, a steady 25MPH as our attention turned more and more to what was ahead of us.. in a matter of seconds the Sentra had a bow wave

The not-so-mighty engine started having trouble holding speed and soon the water was over the nose of the hood.. this ship was in peril. My friend in the backseat and I yelled, simultaneously, "FLOOR IT!" and, "DON'T STOP!"

Accelerator to the floor, the Nissans brand new windows, and I'll never forget this, were very clean. I could see a good 3" under water through the side window of this car, if the Sentra were a convertible I'd be up to my nose in rainwater! The car was slowing but we were still moving... if there were fish in this "puddle" I'd have seen them, the windshield and in fact, all the windows were 3" under water!

This was as deep as we got - but knowing that if we stopped now, right here, it'd be catastrophic to not just our morning but to the car. I'm unsure if we could have even gotten the door open.

The car sputtered down to less than 10MPH under full throttle (and we never became afloat as far as I know). The wheels kept turning and the water visible through the window started to recede as if a drain had been unplugged from the street. It wasn't, of course, we just happened to make it to the other side of the pond.

We laughed knowing that we dodged a bullet, as Ralphie in A Christmas Story states: We kids know it is always better to not get caught.

Our friends only comment on this, other than extreme laughter echoing through the cabin of the Sentra was, "don't tell my dad, he'll never let me drive again."

So we never told anyone.

Sticks and Stones My Break My Bones But they Also Can Fix My Chevy

I've posted a couple serious and deeply personal posts lately so I'm going to balance it back out with goofy car stories. This one is actually a "humble brag" post about my mechanical ability and ability to work a situation that isn't necessarily going my way.

In 1992 while driving in my neighborhood, I passed a car with a for sale sign in it and it immediately drilled into my psyche. It was a gunmetal grey 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne 2-Door Post. The "post" referred to the B-billar of the car. Oddly, to me a the time, it was also known as a "sedan" even though it was a two door.


Like this but grey
It had huge front and back bench seats and the seats were sprung, not of foam like modern cars are. The body was straight and it was a 283 V8 with a 3-speed and automatic overdrive, essentially making it a 6-speed. A great drag car!

The $1600 asking price was within reach - if I sold my 1968 Chevrolet 3/4-ton truck. I didn't need a truck, I'm not even sure why I ever bought it. 

I sold it.


Like this but grey.
The Biscayne I purchased the next day was just a joy. It was a 2-owner car, I was the third. The previous owner had installed cruise control, delay wipers, water injection and a 2nd oil filter under the hood. It purred like a kitten. It had the original hub caps on 14" bias-ply tires.

This is my 2nd favorite car I've ever owned. It never broke and I daily drove it for years to work and all over the Northwest.

Well, honestly, one day it broke. I had driven a good friend over to his not unattractive girlfriends home on the other side of the city. We listened to Queensrÿche: "Empire" on the CD player and 7 speaker system I had installed myself - and damn it was great!

The "breakdown" happened, appropriately for a Chevrolet, only after it delivered me to my destination. The clutch pedal went dead - to the floor - and for a few minutes my heart sank to the same place.

I had often bragged that I could fix a Chevrolet with sticks and rocks if necessary. I never had a wish to try it, it was bravado, but this day, this day I swear my only options were sticks and rocks.

I diagnosed the problem while my friend was in his girlfriends house doing who knows what. I found that the clutch pivot spring that mounts from the engine block to the fame, about 8 inches long, had broken the weld at the frame. This essential part was what let the spring "rock" when you engaged the clutch. No weld, no brace, no engaging the clutch.

As I eyed this problem, two factors immediately came to light. 1. I had not brought my tool box. 2. I did not know how to weld and even if I did, I'd need to fabricate a new part. The cherry on top of the shit sundae being that I was not a CNC operator.

The last thing I noticed was that forward of where the weld broke on the frame was the top of the suspension shock absorber. This was a stout mounting and here was where my mind went to work. Eyeballing the distance between where the broken weld was and this literal stud

Without even thinking of my past boasts about sticks and rocks, I began looking for... sticks and rocks. What I finally came up with was a nice piece of granite, a nicely dried 3"x½" stick of maple and the wonder of compressibility, a nice piece of bark off a giant Douglas Fir.

These three simple, natural items placed in the right order allowed the spring of the clutch to press into them. I hopped in the car and gave the clutch a press. I kid you not, it felt exactly as it did when everything was factory. Good pressure, the pedal returned to its normal height off the floor... groovy!

When my friend came out to check on me I had given it who knows how many pumps to see if anything was moving about under the hood - nope! In fact, the bark had already worn in a nice groove for it to rock in. I wasn't exactly 100% sure this would get us home but I had, as Astronauts say, "a high degree of confidence". I didn't ask how his girlfriend was.

My confidence was well placed. We got in the "Biscuit" as many of my friend called the Biscayne (they must not have been familiar with the bay but I'm a geography nut) and we sailed her home. Nary a hitch as Jet City Woman played on the CD player, an odd mix of 1962 and digital audio rolling through King County in style. Men in bland Honda Accords looked at me with our windows down, all smiles and I could read their minds: I wish I had never sold that car.

The most impressive part of my humble brag is that I drove my car like that for a good six or more months before finding someone who could take on the job of fabricating and welding in a new bracket at the great price of $50!

So if you wonder why the only tattoo I have is "1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2" and I bleed Chevy Orange, this is one of the many reasons. I've had many things let me down or not work as advertised or had small prayers not answered but Chevrolet has never stranded me, whether a 30 year old one with hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer or a modern 2008 or 2013 model.

I still have those sticks and rocks packed away somewhere. So I implore you:

See the U.S.A. in your Jet-Smooth Chevrolet.

The Low Odds, High Desirability Event (Cars & Girls)

Hello, lovers. It is time to get back on the horse, or should I say horseshittery?

This story comes to us from the great state of Washington in the summer of 1990. If you've followed this blog so far you know that this is basically a blog revolving around funny or stupid things I did as a kid. So here we go.

I was 17 years old in 1990. In that year people in cars actually drove them rather than pretending to not look down at their own crotches while looking at their cell phones. By the way people, we CAN see you looking down at your phone even when you're tiring to make it look like your head is looking out the window - but that is another rant for another day.

My F-body Chevrolet (That is a Camaro to you) was never going to be complete without a CB radio in it. So, as a 17 year old in high school, working 40 hours a week and pulling 3.7GPAs I figured dropping $50 on a Uniden 510XL CB from Costco was more than a fair weekend joy. It turns out radio would be a life love of mine - and that I'd find out that looking for love on a CB radio was "all the wrong places."


The "Yellojacket" as my friends called my car.
My 1975 Camaro Rally Sport was one of 1500 Chevrolet made that year. Of course, I wrecked it because it was my first car and I was a boy. I didn't find out that the car was limited numbers until 20 years later when the Internet allowed looking up such banal facts.

Anyway, I think I prepared my whole life just for the day I could drive. I kept close attention to every single place we drove from childhood until that day Washington State handed me my permit.

I could attention seek and post pictures of all these treasured artifacts but you're here to READ so you only get one photo, kid.


Oh, the girl?

Yes, I was driving home from my grandparents place in on the Skagit River up in (heh) Skagit County back home to Renton. The South Skagit Highway is a Washington State best drive. (I almost hate to divulge this because I'm starting to not give up all my "best drives in Washington" for fear they will no longer be "best drives" but full of Subaru Drivers driving 5MPH below on the twisties, causing me to pull over for 20 minutes in order to hope they either drive over the bank into the river or give them time to get off the highway so I may do it properly).

The "low odds" event mentioned in my title is that on this day another Camaro was on South Skagit. It was not driving slow, it was the same generation as mine and it was RED. South Skagit is a two lane road with one in each direction. There are only a few passing points no matter how fast your car is or how masterful a wheel person you are. So, when doing 70MPH and I came up on the tail of this red Camaro, I was more intrigued than frustrated. A fellow petrol head!


This is not the car, you illiterate fool, we didn't have camera phones back then.
As Def Leppard played on my stereo, I slid into 4th gear and kept a "safe and sane" distance from this car and started to take it all in. The red looked original, less masculine (or asinine) than mine did. The person driving it had longish hair... and I kid you not, it had a CB antenna on the trunk. The spirited driving I had been doing up until now was nothing compared the way my heartbeat picked up. I'm not sure if it was just the hope I had to engage in some fun or if I truly expected anyone to actually engage in any fun with me.

I had been driving and riding the South Skagit for ALL of my 17 years and I knew every twist and turn. Which straight away could handle 140MPH and which ones you just motor on through at 35. I knew a left hander was coming up that rolled out into at least a one mile or more straight away that crossed one creek with a small bridge. As the corner loomed, I blipped the throttle of the V8, matching revs and downshifted into 3rd. When she had completed the turn and I was at the apex and could see no oncoming cars, I put the spurs to her. The M-22 transmission whined and the ker-chunk of the four barrel carburetor happened in quick succession. 

My Camaro not so much passed her, but leapt aside her where I peddled the car at 4,000RPM in 3rd to hold station. She looked over and all I did was hold up the microphone of my CB and dangle it so she could "get the message".. and all of this in the blink of an eye, she held up 7 fingers, not just the one finger I was expecting. I finished off 3rd and the pass and banged home 4th gear. The Coconut Little Tree™ hanging from my rear view mirror, heretofore rocking back and forth like a metronome during the maneuver, returned to its normal place. 

With my heart pounding, I dialed in channel 7 on the CB and then.... there she was! We were almost in the same car! For the next 45 minutes from the South Skagit Highway to down Interstate 5 we chatted as if we were having coffee except we were talking about cars, our favorite bands and whether we should stop and meet.

Before the exit was coming up I was already having separation anxiety. I was wary of stopping and she definitely had to be more wary, even as two Camaro owners - of the kid with the mullet and deadly good looks. I was just naive enough to think that "this has happened once now, it shall happen again".

At the exit we waved and laughed and I merged off onto Interstate 405. We kept talking until we were out of range - which was another 10 or more minutes and then our disembodied voices faded off into the ether. 

I never saw that Camaro or person again - and I still wonder where the heck she was driving from and where the heck she was going.

Here's to you, missy! You had reinforced a hopeful young mans belief in romanticism in the most perfect way it could have possibly been conveyed that day.

The Great Blimp Attack of 1994

Ah, my beloved Seattle Supersonics. I was a complete NBA head until the league decided that Oklahoma City(!?) of all places needed a team so bad that expansion just wouldn't work. They needed a team, in place, that they could steal from a city and plunk down in the great market that is OKC. Don't even argue with me that this was a premeditated attack and rip off of our team here, 1967-2008.. over 40 years of support and love.


Anyway, this short story is about one particular game in 1994. The very good Orlando Magic were visiting and the Sonics were playing in the Tacoma Dome. Why? Because Seattle was trying to placate yet another NBA bitch that our arena wasn't good enough. It was, but still we took a year to give them exactly what they wanted. 

The 1994 Orlando Magic were a powerhouse but the Sonics were also very good these mid 90s years. Orlando came packing Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway who were nearly as fun to watch as the Sonics duo of Gary "The Glove" Payton and Shawn "Reign Man" Kemp. Nearly - but not as fun. They were not as daring and dare I say just could not match the charisma that Payton/Kemp brought to the hardwood.

Anyway, the powerhouses met to do battle in 1994 and I remember the game well. I had season tickets this year and I brought my younger brother to the game. Leading up to it we knew it was going to be a great game but we had no idea about how fun the game was going to be.

The game was fun. It was intense. For some reason we held Shaq to 0 (zero) points and beat them quite handily. Perhaps it was a secret weapon to make millionaire basketball studs from Orlando play a game in Tacoma. This isn't a jab at Tacoma but I think even they would admit in March that they are no match for Orlando as a city. 

So, the Great Blimp Attack? Ah, yes, the game was interesting but what made this match unforgettable was that the blimp that flew around Sonics matches for years and dropped free tickets to upcoming matches ran into some trouble.
I still can't tell if it was taunting people or if there were "technical malfunctions" that allowed it to fly below the "hard deck" (a term we all learned as Generation Xers from the movie Top Gun). In my mind, I was thinking, if I wanted to take a shot at that blimp, now is when I'd strike. 

In a brief flash of what felt like psychokinesis, indeed, a drunken fan at the south end of the court saw his chance appear. Or, a chance at notoriety appeared to him. We will never know. In one hilarious move he chucked his large bucket of popcorn up at the blimp which destabilized it enough to send it into a porpoising motion as if it were riding an invisible teeter-totter. This alone caught the attention of... everyone.. but in particular the Sheriffs who were doing security at the game.

The man saw his work, and was clearly pleased with it. I'm not sure if he saw the police and security coming to beat his ass as he was kicked out of the venue but if he did - and kudos to him to stay focused on the attack - he picked up his beer. He took a swig, showing great elan, and after he was good with the swill he fox-one'd the beer delivering a staggering blow the beloved Sonics blimp. It kept losing altitude until it was behind the stands and after that I know not what happened to it. 

The man who decided to take out the blimp was "escorted" out of sight also. I'd like to think he was one of what seemed to be the 30% of people there wearing Orlando jerseys because, ya know, everyone liked Shaq but I was not so close as to see his garb.

My human failing (as well as just plain being a homer) says that if it were an Orlando Magic fan that did this I'm less okay with it than had it just been a bored Sonics fan who was so sick of winning this night that he was pretty much done with basketball.

To this day, if Clay Bennett and his crook partner David Stern were riding in a blimp over Seattle... I'd entertain thoughts of throwing a King Beer at them. They ripped my heart out, stealing our team, and in my mind it will never be made right.

1998 The Daily 5AM Duel

OK, so my blog is starting to read that the only accomplishments I've achieved are driving cars and screwing around. In order to reinforce the fact that the thought that I'm a super talented person who just has a lot of interesting experiences - I have a fully new story to share regarding cars.

For a good one and a half years, every day when I got up to go to work, there was a 3 out of 5 possibility that when, after warming up my 1978 Z/28 to drive to Starbucks Retail Operations in Seattle from Renton that the "5AM Daily Duel" as I like to call it was on.

My 1978 Z/28 had 55,000 original miles and looked like it rolled right off the factory with the sole exceptions that I had dismantled the 5.7L engine (that's 350 cubic inches to you, kids), added a roller cam and rockers and a more modern Holley Double Pumper™ Four Barrel Carburetor. Usually Q-ships are cars that don't look fast but are. My car was a Q-ship if only because it was fast to begin with but the sleeper part was that it was faster than any 1978 Z/28 that ever rolled off Chevrolet's glorious assembly line.

I named it "The Menace".

The Menace is loose again.


I'd burble out of the garage onto Benson Road South and would pretty much let the 4-speed roll down hill in neutral... looking for a Camaro natural nemesis: A white 5.0 Mustang of about 1986 Vintage. The man who drove it was about my age (25) and his car was a stick too. His car looked stock like mine but clearly wasn't. When he woke in the morning I'd wager he was also wondering if he'd tangle with me too. 



There were two lights before we would hit downtown Renton at the bottom of Benson Hill. When we did spot each other, clutches were popped, V8s roared and since the streets were empty we raced to the exact same spot: the last light on Grady that turns onto 167 for 1/8th of a mile and then to 405 to I-5. The race stopped when we got to I-5 if only that driving 140MPH 3 times a week in an urban setting is just plain fun, er, dangerous.

I think we only ever made eye contact once in the 1.5 years and it was the first day we tangled. There was no posturing. No ridiculous exhaust sounds whose barks were worse than their bites. Just two Pony Cars whose owners love to drive them the way they were built to be driven. 

At that last light before the interstates, there were two left turn lanes. The inside one was the one the "loser" got stuck in. The outside left turn lane was the one to be in as it was an easy clutch pop and redline in first to that onramp and snicking the shifter into second or in my case, throwing the Menace into 2nd, you were golden. The car in the inside turn lane had to fall in behind and the chase was on to the I-5 onramp. There was no looking at the speedometer..... it was flat out Mustang GT versus Z/28 pride on the line.

To this day, I can't tell you the winning percentage of who had to watch the other guys tail lights to Interstate 5 North. I even remember the guys license plate and a bumper sticker, the sticker read "FoMoCo".

Now, just because I ended up behind him enough times to know that doesn't mean a thing. I'm pretty sure to this day he can see my Z/28 logo on my rear gas filler door and my RATT sticker placed very subtly low on my rear bumper; Dangerous but worth the risk.

But the very first time we ever tangled, he saw Chevrolet tail lights at every stop.


Nobody ruled the streets at night like me.


Spring, 1993, Stone Temple Pilots Show

If you haven't heard of Stone Temple Pilots, that's fine. Just substitute STP for one of the hottest, sweatiest most packed live shows you have ever gone to and it'll all make sense, kids.

I'm not going to get into a debate about STP. I think there are two people: One who dig them and others who think they just aped Seattle Sound. Let's not argue that. Let's just say that if you're GenX you definitely rocked to Plush, Interstate Love Song, Sex Type thing... and many more tunes that are near and dear to my heart.

So, when STP came to the Mercer Arena in 1993, you bet your sweet ass I was gonna be at that Rawk Show! I'm a music snob but I couldn't wait to see frat boys who only knew two songs packed in and getting their lame asses rocked off just to hear Plush while they were high.

Well, turns out, it did't matter who you were that night. We all got our lame asses rocked. 

I had bought a brand new pair of Chuck Taylor high tops, the only size 13s in the city, just for the show. Chubby and Tubby on Rainier (like Sir-Mix-Alot but a rocker) for $24. I was ready to rock. The usual "Goddamned Rockers" piled into my 1979 Sleeper Camaro and cruised downtown to the Mercer Arena for just another night.

This is not the one shoe I had left. It is a representation.

It wasn't just another night. I'm not even sure who opened for STP because everyone was jockeying for front row to see the DeLeon Brothers and Scott Weiland. I was about 2 or 3 people deep and the lights went dark. At first it was quiet and then the crowd started to press. Scott steps to the mic with a megaphone in hand, into the microphone, with his inimitable voice says, "I aaaaaaaaam smelling like a rose......."


I aaaaaaaaaaam!


The lights pop on at the exact same time with red shining down on his red bleached hair and the place feels as if someone just vacuumed packed us all in this place and time to have wallets stolen, asses grabbed, nuts kicked, sweat swapped, and smiles and singing above all.

I am not a small guy, even at age 18. I swear to you, ½ way through the first song someone stepped (I'm sure purely on accident) on my right heel, removing my brand new right Chuck T. I immediately tried to go to ground but the pit was so packed, I was able to raise my knees to my chest! There I was suspended - lifted as if I were a 2 year old... an odd feeling for a "grown man".

Before I can even try to shimmy down the sweaty arms to my beloved, new Chuck T, I see what can only be MY Chuck T being thrown over our heads at the drummer. The person missed, and it sailed over his him. There goes $12! But it isn't just $12 because nobody is selling me one size 13 Chuck T high top. The meter is still running kids - I have my brother's Eddie Bauer watch to lose still - absolutely no idea where that one went... no idea which song, whether the first or last one.

Also, to win the Big Rock Show Trifecta, and only after the show was over and my beer soaked right sock (It was a Nike mid-cut with blue Swoosh™) and badly bruised heel, arch, toes and top of foot.... as I hopped out of Mercer Arena on my left foot - Seattle blessed us with its famed gentle downpour. 


Adam the Goddamned Rocker with my cold friend Mat

Picture Frogger but instead someone who still had to drive all his friends home in his $400 Camaro - which for some reason everyone envied but they never had to get their hands dirty. Denon pull out cranked the tunes, I added up my losses and our ears ringed all the way home. 

I did try to ask politely to get my shoe back after the encore... you can guess what the stage crew said to me.

And I was happy.