RARA-AVIS: Re: Cars, politics and status

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 30 Nov 2006

To take the top post first, New York isn't the only US city where one can manage without an automobile. I've known a fair number of people who live in the Washington, DC area and manage without an automobile. Between the bus lines and the Metro (subway) with a cab ride now and then, people can manage and do. It's easier now that the grocery chains have delivery service. I could do it easier than most because I live next to a subway station. I admit it would be a lot more difficult than my time in Brussels where subways, trams and buses got me everywhere I needed to go. An additional incentive was that Belgium drivers and odd traffic laws made driving a risky proposition.

As for your earlier post that said: "I see the decision of what kind
> > of
> > car a person drives as a very political one. One's
> > car
> > is a much more important comment about status than
> > are
> > their shoes or trousers."

I don't think the choice of automobile is necessarily an indicator of politics or status in the real world. There are too many variables that can go into that decision. When I was a kid in rural Georgia I was amazed at the number of people who beggared themselves to drive an expensive car while they lived in a shack in danger of falling down. Now you may stretch the term "political" to cover their choice but no one seeing them on the road would have an accurate indicator of financial status.

I see the same thing today with the 20-somethings living five to an apartment but driving very expensive car. It's important that they 'present well' because there are people out there who will follow the simplistic logic and think because they drive an expensive car they are well off. It is this aspirational-driven appearance that drives much of marketing. Why else would people in bars request expensive call brand vodka and have it poured into a softdrink?

The one place where your observation is most often true is in fiction. Writers do often use the choice of automobile to underscore status of the character.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Patrick King <abrasax93@...> wrote:
> --- Allan Guthrie <allan@...> wrote:
> I don't drive a car. Does that make me an anarchist?
> Al
> ****************************************************
> No, probably just a New Yorker. New York City is the
> only place I've been to in the US where people can
> actually survive without an automobile. In other
> circumstances you have to rely on others to cart you
> around like a sack of sugar. When I was a kid, every
> family had a car. Today, every member of the family
> has a car. Transportation is the single most dangerous
> problem in the US on at least 3 different fronts.
> Patrick King
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Patrick King
> > To: rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com
> > Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 10:07 PM
> > Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: can noir writers advocate
> > social reform?
> >
> >
> > I think we have a different view of what is
> > political
> > and what is not. I see the decision of what kind
> > of
> > car a person drives as a very political one. One's
> > car
> > is a much more important comment about status than
> > are
> > their shoes or trousers. Very few things a person
> > does
> > fails to telegraph their political pov. I don't
> > see
> > much of a break between a person's political
> > attitude
> > and the rest of their lives. Certainly a writer,
> > intentionally or not cannot fail to expose their
> > political views in all their work. Whether we're
> > talking about Thompson or Wodehouse both are
> > making
> > valid and pointed political statements. With those
> > two, I suspect they were in agreement most of the
> > time
> > as different as their work appears on the surface.
> >
> > Patrick King

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