Like trying to define love, freedom is just a conditioned state of mind. I will never forget my friend Bernie Klincker telling me about a Russian fellow he once met who told him, "Americans think they have freedom, but there are lines painted on their roads to follow. In Russia, there are no lines painted on the roads, so we can drive wherever we want." If this is true, then I guess some of the freest people in the world live in Seoul, South Korea, where they ignore the direction of traffic and drive on the sidewalks.
I know this might be kind of a jump from Russia, but when I ponder freedom and the subject comes to old trucks, I think about the governmental confiscation of personal property. My only brush with anything close to governmental confiscation was when my dad was dying and I had not gotten around to sending in the registration fees for his '94 Z-28. A white letter with red type arrived from the state of California informing us that if we failed to pay the fees by a certain date, the car was subject to seizure. I have never seen a letter like it since, and I hope that I never do.
The thought of any government agency, whether it's state or local, confiscating private property sounds more like a movie about World War II Nazis than present day America, but as hobbyists, it's a reality we must face. Along with states that already have passed laws that allow townships to deem any inoperable vehicle as junk and seize it from its legal owner, there are states attempting to pass legislation along the same lines. So if you know of an old guy who has a really neat stash of old trucks in his backyard, don't be surprised if the next time you talk to him the city or state has stepped in, seized and destroyed everything he owned, and then said they were just doing their job. How bad the problem is depends on which state one is talking about. The best way to learn what is going on in your state's legislature is to log onto www.sema.org and check out the SEMA Action Network's (SAN) page.
Well, since we seem to have a theme going on about personal property seizure, I guess I'll wrap this one up by telling you all about my experience with an overaggressive tow company while producing the Gear Vendors tech story in this issue. As I mentioned in the story, Jerry Siever's shop, Paint 'N' Place, was deeply involved painting a bobbed schoolbus for the TV show Overhaulin' while I was there picking up his truck. When I returned with Jerry's '64 Chevy on Saturday morning, the Overhaulin' film crew was still there. As I'm sure you all know, the premise behind Overhaulin' is that some poor guy's pride and joy has been either impounded or stolen, so you can well imagine how surreal it was when I tell you what happened next. With all the activity at Jerry's place, there was no place to park my truck and trailer except at the empty industrial complex next door. I set my four-way flashers and went to find Jerry. We hadn't been talking five minutes when I looked over and saw a guy trying to break into my truck. As I ran up, all I could think was that the creep was trying to steal my camera gear when I noticed my brand-new car trailer had been disconnected and my '05 GMC was hanging on atow-boom. Needless to say, I was hotter than a pistol, but I kept my cool. With all the stuff going on at Jerry's, I started to wonder if maybe some knock-off artists weren't trying to launch a new TV show. Maybe if I had just left the tow truck guy alone, the next time I saw my Jimmy it would have looked like Elvis' tour bus. But nope, no such luck, the scratches on my driver-side window molding are real, and so is the damage to my front valance. The reality is that my GMC doesn't look like Elvis' tour bus, and I had to pay the culprit who damaged it $55 to boot, but that's OK.
Remembering how my parents taught me to always turn something bad into a good thing, I have come up with a premise for a new TV show. I'm not sure what I am going to call the series, but it's about a group of law-abiding Katrina survivors who had their firearms confiscated by the police going to Iraq and competing in a build-off to restore Humvees blown up by insurgents. The first team that drives off before the Iraqi authorities can seize their Humvee as junk wins.