By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
8a. 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible. Really good vintage cars are rarely available for $600 in the Weekly classifieds, and this primer-colored beauty, which may be less a Cadillac than a vaguely Cadillac-shaped chunk of Bondo, is no exception. There are chemicals, I discover, that can technically get a car to running when you spray them into the carburetor. The hitch is, of course, they don’t keep it running very long.
8b. 1968 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible. $1,800 vintage cars from the Weekly classifieds are somewhat nicer, I discover, and the Romanian boyfriend of the aspiring actress who is selling the car is almost persuasive in his description of the car’s cream-puff provenance. It chugs like a motorboat and has the turning radius of the Queen Mary, but you can fit eight people into it on a trip to the beach or a drive-in movie, and a Marshall stack plus a drum kit fits easily into the trunk. It is in this car that I romance the woman I will eventually marry. We drive through a cloud of butterflies on the Tejon Pass on the way to see the wildflowers, and they splatter on the windshield like balls of paint. When I pop the hood later, the radiator grille is encrusted with a butterfly mosaic Gaudi might have envied, hundreds of interlaced bright wings iridescing in the early-morning sun. The next New Year’s Eve, outside my apartment in Koreatown, close enough to midnight that the sound of the collision is masked by the sound of AK-47s fired straight into the air, a drunk guy plows smack into the side of the parked vehicle, bending the rails of the frame into what a mechanic would later describe as seagulls flying in tandem.
9. 1986 Ford Thunderbird. My father had always said that I would drive his car over his dead body. And when he is felled by a massive heart attack in a Canadian parking structure, I do. The ashtray overflows with his cigarette butts, which I can’t bring myself to throw out. The trunk bulges with magazines and newspapers containing almost everything I had ever written, stories he claimed he’d never read. In the cassette player is a radio performance of the Verdi Requiem he’d taped a few weeks before his death. It seems significant somehow, so I drive up through the San Gabriels and snap his tape into the deck, but after a few bars of Verdi’s magnificent trumpets the music deteriorates into degraded static, then into silence. If this is a message from beyond, I have no idea what it means.
10. 1998 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab. Ram tough. With a baby seat in the rear.
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