We're pretty avid magazine readers at my house. One recent story that captured my attention was in the July '05 issue of Vanity Fair (page 106). It's about the red-tailed hawks, Pale Male and Lola, attempting to nest on a window ledge in Manhattan, across from Central Park. The wealthy 5th Avenue building(where the hawks nest) tenants have found out the hard (and expensive) way just how passionate New York bird lovers can be in and around the park.
It seems the mega-rich tenants felt that when you pay 15 to 20 million dollars to live in Manhattan, you ought not to have the view of the park spoiled by a pair of large nesting birds. Rather than embrace the beauty and majesty of these wild raptors, the tenants' board looked for any legal loophole to evict the birds from their window ledge. They even stretched the truth (by reporting to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that the nest was inactive) to have the nest removed. Soon the Central Park bird lovers had "Honk For Hawks" signs in hand and a website to help bring the birds' plight to the public's attention. Even resident Mary Tyler Moore was involved in raising public awareness to the hawks' precarious situation.
After reading the Vanity Fair article, I went on-line (www.palemale.com) to learn more about the efforts to protect the nest and potential offspring of the beautiful red-tailed hawks. The more I read, the more I was delighted to discover that the press was a significantly useful and powerful tool in the preservation process. We should all be so lucky to enjoy the presence of hawks in our community.
All this environmental awareness got me to thinking about vintage trucks and why we're so passionate about restoring them. While we don't have a particularly bright light on the subject of automobile conservation, I believe it's admirable and environmentally friendly to save a vintage truck. Why do I think this, you might ask? The primary reason is to raise our collective consciousness about the throwaway mentality of our modern society. And to raise the level of society's awareness of the craft and the skillful use of tools to preserve our trucks and other modern machinery.
I worry about the future of a society that sees cars and trucks as mere transportation appliances and not as industrial works of art. Again, why are cars and trucks works of art you might ask? Because hundreds of artists and sculptors are involved in the creative design process. In addition, there are thousands of engineers employed by automotive manufacturers. Yes, I understand that technology continues to march forward, and that modern cars and trucks are safer and more economical to operate. But it also requires a great deal more raw materials and energy to replace a car or truck with an entirely new one. I've adopted the Mr. Miyagi philosophy (of the 1984 film, Karate Kid) of keeping about six older vehicles at home. When one needs repairing, I drive one that doesn't. The DMV loves me for all the registration money I pay, and my insurance company does too.
Few of us want our choices to be restricted when it comes to transportation. But the sad fact of life is that there are DMV laws being written constantly to do precisely that. For example: recently Turbo City in Orange, California, converted my '83 Chevy Blazer from carburetion to electronic fuel injection to improve performance and its ability to pass the mandatory bi-annual emissions test. After several trips to the DMV referees, it was pronounced fit for California roads, and a much cleaner engine for exhaust emissions. The fact that it runs better was simply a bonus. You'd think this process would be streamlined because of the benefit to our state's cleaner air, but it's more like an obstacle course with plenty of bureaucratic roadblocks. But we succeeded in spite of them!
One other magazine that I subscribe to and read with great interest is Dwell. It's an architectural design magazine-and it is inspiring to see what professionals can accomplish (alas, with greater budgets than mine) in creating a comfortable modern home. We'd like to extend congratulations to Editor-In-Chief Allison Arieff and all the names on the Dwell masthead for being selected for the American Magazine Society Award, an Ellie. The Alexander Calder-designed award is the magazine world's equivalent of an Oscar. Way to go, Dwell-ers! -Rich Boyd