Those of you who have followed my so-called writing career are by now familiar with the fact that my muse is, at best, a part-time worker with a few likely side hustles to help put nectar and ambrosia on the old kitchen table (I'm just assuming that's what muses might eat). Which is why I occasionally find myself either creatively becalmed or caught in a torrid inspirational wind shift that sends me off in another direction before I've reached my originally planned destination.
Anyhow, it's happened again.

Oh, I seemed to be cruising along just fine on the eighth and (I promise!) final novel in my THE LAST OPEN ROAD/200MPH STEAMROLLER series. I had a pretty good beginning and a really great (IMHO) ending all worked out. Only then I hit a sort of dead spot between those two bookends. It wasn't that I couldn't write it (I had my usual timeline/outline to work from), but it was just sort of laying there on the page like a week-old slab of pizza. Just flat refusing to "come alive," if you will.
Now this has happened before and will no doubt happen again, but in this case, I got distracted. Like the high school freshman who has just bought his first tube of Clearasil and sees this magical and metaphorically perfect "girl in the hall" (think Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles" if you're old enough) and the poor, helpless sap can't get her out of his head.
Maybe she even smiles at him?
Or maybe it was just something stuck in her teeth?

See, I've had this idea knocking around in my head about doing a second "POTSIDE COMPANION" collection of short stories and such. Only this one contrived to be different. Instead of just regurgitating some favorite stories and columns I'd written for various magazines, this would be all-new work, and moreover based on two of the three tripodial (is there such a word?) main anchors/avenues that have, for better or worse, shaped, smashed, smooshed, stomped and shredded me into the person--and writer--I have become:

The first of the three, which I will not touch with a ten-foot pole, pivots around all the major romantic entanglements/relationships I've been fortunate enough to enjoy or regret. But it's all from my B.C. past (meaning Before Carol, and we've been together now for a gnat's eyelash short of a half century now) not to mention that remembrances of this type are seen through either rose-colored, blindered, terrifically dark or violently shattered glasses.
Plus it's none of your damn business!

But the other two categories are jobs and cars. I've had a LOT of good and crap jobs in my time, and you could say the same about cars. There moreover seems to be an indelible, time-warp link between them. You all know I've been involved with car racing and writing about same (and have enjoyed a bit of minor-league success with both), and you probably also are aware that I sold fancy cars and worked as a mechanic and that Carol and I ran a sports car shop in Chicago right after we were married. Ran it into the ground, in fact...but my fault much more than hers.
But did you know I was also a hod-carrier on a construction crew? A furnace heater in a drop forge? Worked temp day laborer and later delivered phone books here in Chicago? Was a dishwasher and then a cook at The Catacombs restaurant in the basement of the Boulderado Hotel in Boulder, CO during my college dropout days. And then resurfaced as a drug-addled employee-cum-foreman of a hippie-commune leather clothing factory in Oakland, CA? Or served as an ad hoc, second-string stunt driver when THE BLUES BROTHERS movie was shooting in Chicago?

The point is that my folks always thought/insisted that I should have some sort of job. And so I did. Dating all the way back to junior high. And, looking back on all those jobs and all that personal history, there was usually some sort of vehicle involved in all of those memories, adventures and disasters. In fact, my job timeline and my "available vehicle" timeline are the two tracks on which the runaway locomotive of my life, adventures and relationships traveled. Or went off the rails, as the case may be.
So I started fooling around and even hammering at my keyboard a bit and, well, I've got about half a book done already with more stories in the works. In fact, it's coming out of my fingers as fast as I can type.
Which is a good thing.
So here's the deal:
1) I most definitely HAVE NOT given up on that last OPEN ROAD/STEAMROLLER novel. But I gotta get this other bee out of my bonnet first. The damn buzzing is keeping me awake at night.
2) The short-story book will finish first. The title will be (drum roll, please):
Responsible Jobs and Irresponsible Driving
And it'll be done pretty soon. I'm thinking this summer. Really!
No bullshit.

3) After that burr is out from under my saddle, I'll go back to the last STEAMROLLER novel. And by then will hopefully find the immediacy and excitement again for the middle part. Like I said, I already have a fine beginning and a really good ending. Real Hollywood stuff. Like the way it made you feel when you saw "ROCKY" for the first time...I mean before you learned all that stuff you'd really rather not know about Sylvester Stallone...

So that's the deal. And, as of April 1st (April Fools' Day..what could be more fitting?), we'll be shamelessly soliciting sponsorships and advertising for BOTH books (even though that last novel is still a year or so away). We'll have a blurb on the website and of course there will be another, unseemly round of begging, blubbering and beseeching right here in the next e-blast...
Watch for it!

Speaking of projects, some of you (everyone who ordered one, in fact) are still waiting for your fancy-schmancy, numbered, suede-bound, hundred-dollar, 25th Anniversary editions of THE LAST OPEN ROAD. I will not bore you or embarrass myself with all the shit that's gone wrong with what should have been a fairly simple project (or so I thought), but here's the deal:

1) If you ordered one and are either sick of me or sick of waiting, I will be happy (OK, that's a lie...I'll be really grumpy and gnarly about it!) to REFUND your hundred bucks and apologize profusely.

2) We DID make a lot of headway, and below are images of the medallion of the original THE LAST OPEN ROAD cover that will go on the outer sleeve plus an image of the cast-and-etcched, numbered medallions that will go on the suede outer binding of each copy.

3) I need another month or three following a litany of well-intentioned book-binding disasters you really don't need to know about.

4) If you did not order one of these fine volumes:
a) consider yourself lucky?
b) you can still order one. Reach out to me at THINKFAST@MINDSPRING.COM and I'll be happy to take your money. I mean, "add you to our sucker list." Wait, make that: "encourage your participation..."

Carol and I will once again be shamelessly hawking books/audiobooks and our wonderful logo clothing, accessories & whatnot at the Chicagoland MG Club's annual SWAP MEET on Sunday, March 26th, from 8am-2pm in the East building at the Dupage County Fairgrounds off Manchester Rd in Wheaton, IL.

CD Set Audio Books, were $65, now $40!

Our unbelievably cool yet incredibly warm

Two LAST OPEN ROAD license plate frames @ $10!

Be the first to sponsor the new book(s)!
We make you SPECIAL deal!!!
I should know better (but, obviously, I don't). Seems last time, in the wake of the senseless and horrifying shootings at my sort-of alma mater, Michigan State University, I shot my keyboard off on the subject of senseless gun violence and possible things that could be done about it. And received quite a bit of feedback (close to forty responses), and all except two were supportive of my outrage and inclinations. But one of the two negative responses, which went on for an extended period of back-and-forth exchanges that brought something we're all aware of into frighteningly clear focus: We live in a hideously polarized and even tribal country these days, and a lot of it hinges on three basic facts about the news media:
1) News is entertainment these days. 24/7.
2) The job of the news media--right OR left--is to keep you watching. Audience size and loyalty is what keeps the advertisers booking spots and the old cash register ringing. And if it takes sensationalism, gore, outrage, disgust or partisanship disguised as patriotism...hey, that's OK. Just so they don't change the damn station.
3) As a result, we tend to define ourselves--or at the very least our politics--by the news sources we watch and listen to. I make a practice of listening to "the other side" at least every other day. Even if it makes me gag. But most folks don't do that. Even if they say they do. So I want to end with a quote from one of the negative series of emails I received, dated March 7: "Incidentally, you may want to check out Tucker Carlson on Fox, since McCarthy authorized the release of all the footage from January 6. To say it's been misrepresented for partisan reasons, is an understatement."
There must be something wrong with my eyeballs, since I'm pretty sure I know what I saw on January 6th, and I believe the courts, judges and juries where all those misguided idiots were charged have been agreeing with me.
Oh, and then he accused ME of being trapped in "A Left-Wing Echo Chamber."
It's sad, really. Not his positions--hey, this is America, right?--but the stark polarization and the immediate demonization of anyone who thinks otherwise.
We can do better.


EVERYBODY got the famous Lotus Seven above, which of course was built and properly flogged behind the credits by Patrick McGoohan as "Number Six" in the beloved but occasionally hard-to-fathom and even obscure "The Prisoner" TV series. I watched a couple episodes again not that long ago, and came to the conclusion that:
1) The central theme is mostly about paranoia. And authority. And why it makes perfect sense to be thoroughly paranoid about authority.
2) That siad, "The Prisoner" made more sense--perfect or otherwise--when I was watching it stoned out of my gourd. Which I don't really do any more. It's not that I've had any sort of moral or physical epiphany about pot, but it occurred to me about four decades ago that I was spending an awful lot of my precious lifetime EXPERIENCING and APPRECIATING interesting things (like how good damn near anything tastes when you're stoned) or watching an early-ayem TV test pattern to see how the plot turned out rather than actually DOING anything. I'm not in the least evangelical about my decision. I liked pot and I may do it again one day.
But not today...
It's a personal thing.
But good on all of you who recognized the car above. Remember that the heading was "All Sixes and Sevens..."

The semi-stylish French P.O.S. above was almost instantly identified by longtime friend/supporter/occasional business partner Tina from Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank, but in reality thanks to long-suffering husband Chuck, who inevitably goes weak in the knees--not to mention between the ears--over cute/quaint/charming/oddball French and Italian cars, and knows WAY too much about them.
The vehicle above is a lowly Citroen Traction Avant B11 Cabriolet from the mid-late 1950s, only with some sort of high-zoot, aftermarket schnoz that's supposed to make it look like, I dunno, maybe a Munchkin-sized, non-Sanforized 1934-39 Ford convert?
No, I don't get it, either, since the stock Traction Avant was a pretty cool looking thing just as it came from the factory. But it was getting a bit long-in-the-tooth by the time this film was made. And you know how the French are about style and trends and up-to-the-minute fashion...
The car appeared as shown above in the cult-classic, 1962 French Nouvelle Vague ("New Wave") flick "Cleo from 5 to 7," which I have not seen (yeah, it's on the list). It's about two hours in the life of a beautiful young Parisian cafe singer who visits a fortune teller while waiting for the potentially life-changing results of some scary and intimidating medical tests. Sounds like a "chick movie" to me, but it's a real favorite among a lot of high-toned, cultured, well-educated and occasionally pedantic folks who know how to order in French restaurants and always talk about "films" rather than "movies." Look it up on IMBd if it piques your interest.

Here's the one I figured at least SOME of you would get. But you didn't.

Several folks mis-identified it as the famous 1958 Plymouth Fury convertible that served as the titular character in John Carpenter's quite excellent & thoroughly unnerving "devil car meets needy nerd" horror movie, "Christine."
Nice try.

But this is a 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury ragtop (slight trim, grille and fin-shape differences), and it was driven by the titular P.I. character in a TV series who got into tight jams and major fistfights in every episode, but never got his hair or suit mussed. How'd he DO that?
A hint: a famous director/producer who married an even more famous actress/chanteuse, as well as a VERY famous musician/composer got their big breaks with this particular TV series.

Oh, and the part 2 and 3 that go with the above:
Who was the main character's girlfriend?

Where did they hang out?

Catch the latest poop & pictures, the Jay Leno interview, Last Open Road swag & highly inappropriate attire from Finzio's Store and the lurid & occasionally embarrassing "ride with Burt" in-car racing videos on the hopefully now fully operational website at: