Monday, August 21, 2006

Uncensored Thoughts

The stale and putrid taste in my mouth makes my first exhale of the day hard and profane. The night’s confusion and frustration that had settled on the tongue now left my mouth like it was venom as my exhale carried the essence away from me. Thoughts unclear, cock hard and unrelenting, I stumble into the bathroom and attempt to give it the old college try. The soap and toothpaste stained mirror in front of me reveals the sad shape I am in, the physical toll all of this is taking on me. I am sure that greater men, wiser me have met their destiny head-on without much hesitation. I guess that would make me the lesser of them. The perennial younger brother that has more ambition than true understanding and thus thinks he can feign to know what his mind can not possibly possess. I have traveled far but still have further to go.

It’s 7:00 am on a Saturday morning, it’s brisk and a bit overcast in Los Angeles..not a good omen for my screening. I never sleep the night before…and I don’t assume any real director does. I mean maybe at one point I assume that you do get jaded and not give a fuck…but for me…for now…there is relatively little else that matters. All details must be mentally checked again and again. I know that we think that filmmaking is a collective effort of artists coming together to create art….nothing could be farther from the truth! There is one person, with one vision…and that’s how films get made. That one person is so emotionally involved in the project that it distorts his reality….and that person is me.

I lay in my cluttered room and pine over everything from will the tape play backwards and invoke the devil incarnate to appear and damn for eternity all those who wished to see my film…to, will they not be able to find the Digibeta copy of my film, or even know who the fuck I am …and simply give me a half-ass apology and send me packing? Is my vision of the cinema….dead? Is my creative drive? Is my relationship? I have learned that it is not wise to ponder questions that you really don’t want the answer to before you screen. Emotions beget emotions beget emotions…at this rate I’ll be lucky if I’m not completely fucking hysterical by the time they actually screen the goddamn thing.

I turn the ignition key and the Z comes alive. She coughs and the twice pipes crackle as the cold engine tries to prepare itself. She hates to be cold and she hates to sit still. Unlike the stock L-28 she does not idle at a higher RPM due to her temp. The cold air induction and the big throat throttle body are all making demands…even at idle. The tuned power plant struggles with each cycle. The entire car shakes and rattles as she hovers at 800rpm. I see now why I like this car so much. Why I have ended numerous relationships with countless women because of her…why I have sunk nearly a third of my income for the last 6 years into her. She is designed for a very particular purpose and that makes it impractical for most situations, and most people. But none of that ever matters, not once you have driven a classic Z. Once you turn the key and instantly become a boisterous youth who sits impatiently waiting for the light to change. Feathering your throttle and planning how you will steal the lane of the car next to you. We are partners in crime in this way…at times I think only this hunk of metal and hoss-powa really understands me. My fragile world of gummy colas and Speed Racer and pot smoking is anchored by this manifestation of my manhood.

I see them in traffic with miserable looks on their faces. Unhappy with their car payments and insurance rates they look most uninspired as they shuffle from point A to point whereeverthefucktheyaregoing. Driving is such a burden to them, the steering, the braking… they want to know when they will release the computer driven car…so they can just watch TV and eat in their journeys. And then there is me; with my classic Z. With my 195/60/14’s with raised white lettering and a short throw shifter. Everyday I look for confrontation, for opportunities to take a win for Datsun, for people who drive stick. We are all that is seemingly left of the sports car legacy…and we ain’t goin’ down without a fight.

This day will begin with a drive to Long Beach. My CD player plays a song that I really don’t want to hear, trying to take me to a place that I don’t want to go. And it all becomes clear then…why there is the chaos…why maintaining a job, and understanding, and a promise is so hard for the filmmaker. Because nothing moves you like the images in the frame. And everyone knows this. The fact that it is so important to you…means that everything else is less important…that’s not exactly an endearing though for those who are close to us.

My bitterness and cynicism boils to a fever pitch before I light the last half of a blunt that I have smuggled out of my apartment. With a flick of a bic lighter stolen from Johnny Sabado…I light the remnant of ancient knowledge, of cultures that have proceeded ours, of truth and of wisdom. With the first inhale my wig is blown. Gone is the fear, the concern, the questions. Love songs are segued out, and dope beats are now in rotation. I do not want to remember who I am or where I have been….my only concern are the parts of my life that have not been written. I increase the bass and now I’m banging in the back of my building. I am sure my neighbors hate my Z, since it’s constantly setting of car alarms as I drive by. Her ignition cycle breaks the peace that is the ‘hood in the early morning…and it’s always followed by a little MF DOOM or Planet Asia cranked loud enough to be heard over my exhaust (IE..really fuckin’ loud motherfuckers).

I creep out of my spot and basically let the Z idle as it creeps up the alley en route to the cross street. This is the calm before the storm, my last attempt to be agreeable, sociable with the rest of society. I navigate the ever increasing series of potholes that feel to me like land mines as they rock the European 240Z springs and my Tokico 2 in 1 shocks.

I exit the alley at nearly .5 MPH. My Z has a custom suspension so the bitch sits low. Way lower than your sport tuner – I’m dealing with a classic here people. Finally reaching asphalt under all four tires I pop the clutch and hear the chirp of cold tires and a lazy street. I don’t run through the gears, but gradually bring them up. I let the Z coast and idle with subtle feathering of the throttle as I make my way to the entranced to the 10.

There are few persons on the street at 7-ish in the AM in west LA. Just a few scampering crack heads and homeless beginning to search the dumpsters before the heat of the day arrives. I am like a shark in this traffic. Noting tire size and engine displacement of the cars I drive near. At the first opportunity, at the first sign of a gap I will be gone; I will become a distant memory of a tuned exhaust as they wonder why I need such things, why my car needs to be so…uncompromising.

As I approach the right hander on to La Cienega I am the third car in line. I can feel the adrenaline building in my veins. I give the inanimate shift knob a nice squeeze as I mentally prepare myself. I check the temp gage…it’s hanging at about 10 o’clock… not completely warm…but willing to talk about it. I know that I want a clean entry to the ramp to the I-10; an unencumbered line where I can put the 4sp tranny to work. I loathe these casual drivers with their lipstick and their cell phones…I am in a race…and you are in the way.

I check the mirrors and switch to the 2nd to right lane. It’s also a turning lane, but put’s you in the outside lane for the I-10 entrance. I have little concern about this because as soon as that Christmas tree changes (stop light) I will show them why this car won 10 consecutive C-production class racing titles and the meaning of power-to-weight ratio.

The green light comes and I lurch off the line. The minivan next to me hasn’t even realized that the light is green and I am through the turn. I see him trying to compensate and defend his lane, but it’s too late…I am already making the move. But he has heart and apparently more horsepower as indicated by the rate at which he is gaining on me.

I drop the Z back into 1st and crank the steering wheel right; he is sure that I am going to collide with him; and then I feel the sensation that all Z owners live for….the ass breaks loose on the Z. It is at times like this that you see the racing heritage in it’s design, because although she is sliding and burning rubber and making noise, she is still under control and adamantly asking you what you’d like to do. If you want to burn a set of rear tires – she is down. If you just want to bring it out and tuck it back in just to show that it’s do-able with style – she’s down. And if you want to create large clouds of white smoke as you run through your three remaining gears and launch yourself to triple digit speeds – she’s down with that too. As he brakes so as not to overshoot the turn due to his rapid acceleration, I have already slide to the center of the onramp and begin my correction. He is looking right at me probably thinking that I am about to crash, because he has begun to steer away from me – sucker!

I slide her onto the on ramp, I am in 2nd gear and in the sweet part of the power band. I straighten the Z without even coming close to the outside curb and it’s obvious to him that I have done this before. I drop the hammer and feel my Z fighting gravity as I accelerate up the ramp. I rip her into 3rd with a hard lunge of the rear and crack 70 mph. By the end of the ramp I am doing 80 passing traffic as I begin my merge. I always get strange looks when I do this…but if I liked waiting in line I’d have bought a minivan (Nice Aerostar!)

COOPRDOG

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