Hello!

Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Firebird Dreams

You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave.
The Eagles, "Hotel California"

When I moved South years ago I was just starting my junior year in High School. My dad put his finger on a map and I found myself in Panama City, Florida. I tell people that if you can find a Funk & Wagnall's encyclopedia from 1975, my photo is in it under the listing for "culture shock". Coming as I did from a town of 300 people in the North Woods. My new High School in Florida had 3000 people in it. At least there is a military facility in Panama City so I was not the only person with a "northern" accent.

I came to love a lot of things about the South after moving. Southern girls. Bar-b-que. Bourbon [eventually]. Much later, summer humidity. Southern rock bands like Skynyrd, Atlanta Rhythm Section, and The Allman Brothers. And Pontiac Trans-Ams.

The Trans-Am was THE car that all the top guys drove in my High School. All five of them. Gloss black. Gold Firebird hood treatment. Shaker hood scoop. Gold and black honeycomb wheels. 6.6 litre engine that would HOWL. Special exhaust package. Dual T-Tops. And the best thing....the gold tinted, brushed chrome dash. In which was deployed the best Eight Track tape system in the auto industry. You see youngsters, once upon a time they put music on magnetic TAPE. And they put the tape into hard plastic cases [as big as half a dozen Ipods] that you would plug into the TAPE PLAYER in your car. All the top guys had one. All five of them. Let me tell you, when you shoved that Eagles "Hotel California" tape in the dash and turned it WAY up, "Life In the Fast Lane" had a whole new meaning. You felt like Stevie Nicks was going to walk right up and get in that car at the next stop light. See, there used to be another band called Fleetwood Mac. And the lead singer was this amazing woman named Stevie Nicks...oh never mind. If I have to explain it...boys in High School in 1976 don't need any explanation of Stevie Nicks' power over us. For the rest of you...

Stevie Nicks, from her web site The Nicks Fix.

At least all this would happen in my imagination. I didn't own a Trans-Am and I never had the chance to ride in one until years later. When a pal let me drive his. He bought it on Ebay. Along with the "Hotel California" eight track tape. But the magic was still there. The sound system still worked. The 6.6 still howled. The sunlight still glinted off that gold dashboard.

Yesterday I read that Pontiac will be no more. Actually, for me, Pontiac has been gone a long time. Ever since they quit making the version of the Trans-Am I fell in love with in the mid-seventies. Now I spend my time in swankier surroundings than hanging out in a parking lot looking at other guys' cars. But every so often, late at night, in some hotel or another, I check out the 1975-77 Trans-Ams for sale on Ebay. And the dream remains...

Somewhere out there is a 1976 Trans-Am with my name on it. And I'm seventeen. And Stevie is waiting for me on that street corner...

18 comments:

heavy tweed jacket said...

M.Lane, This is a great post. It is funny how certain cars can remain something we long for. When I was in high school I admired the Studebaker Avanti and the later Avanti II. The Firebird was a 1970s icon. I hope that you will find one someday!

CashmereLibrarian said...

Funny, I wouldn't have pegged you for a Stevie Nicks type.

But the Firebird, I can totally see!

Turling said...

High school was a little later then the 70's for me, but I do remember that car and one certain Mr. Reynolds who drove it like a bat out of hell with a certain Sally Fields in the passenger seat. I was only about 7 at the time, but, boy, did I need that car.

M.Lane said...

HTJ, now an Avanti is a COOL car! Didn't they have a hydraulic suspension system that raised the car when you started it or am I confusing them with another car?

I don't know WHAT the girls in Panama City would have thought if I had rolled into the Senior parking lot in an Avanti!

CL, in Panama City, Florida in 1975-77 EVERY boy was a Stevie Nicks type!!!

Turling, I'll bet that movie sold a LOT of Trans-Ams...at least in the South. And since BR and I went to the same undergrad school...

Thanks everyone for the visits and comments!

ML
[and CL have I mentioned you have the best blogger name ever?]

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

The older I get the more I appreciate the Eagles.

M.Lane said...

Tessa, how true. I got the "Hell Freezes Over" concert DVD for Christmas and I was engrossed in watching it shortly afterward. My son asked why I was so into it and it occurred to me that those songs were the soundtrack for that whole period of my life. I said so. He wasn't impressed. Not "rock" enough for him. I would love to see them in concert. I never have. The DVD is GREAT.

ML

Ben said...

Okay Mr. Lane! Now you're talking my language! Nevermind that the 6.6 liter V8 was all show, little go. And that the Flaming Chicken on the hood was a decal.

The mid-70s trans am is a true Epic vehicle. With dashes of style and power that say I take neither too seriously, but 'tis there in enough measure to satisfy. Perfect for a boulevard cruise. Let the greasers go out to Airport Road for a drag race. I'm staying here at the Drive In to watch the Moustache jump that crick again with my gal.

Apropos of nothing, the only Burt Reynolds movie of that era superior to the first "Smokey & the Bandit" was "Hooper". But you already knew that.

tintin said...

My platoon sgt had one. A '76 no less with a standard shift. It was a blast to drive - - and I drove it a lot due to his drinking -- but stuff was always going wrong and one night after I drove it over some rail road tracks at 10 mph a piece of chrome on the door fell off and into my lap. Not that my Fiat was any better.

M.Lane said...

Ben, perfect description of the T-A's utility!! Hooper was great. And WW and The Dixie Dance Kings. I hope they don't come take my film degree away from me now...

Tintin, in the T-A's defense, it seemed like it had been through a lot of hard living, especially with that stick that you didn't see all that much. On the other hand, most T-As had a lot of hard living...

ML

Julie said...

I was struck by the strong resemblance Stevie Nicks has to Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched - one of my favorite childhood programs! I don't know cars, but I do know the ancient tv shows I grew up with! Funny, what sticks in your mind.....

drinkinanddronin said...

Loved this post. Being from the south, a lot of this made sense. Growing up, my dad had a beautiful maroon camaro with chrome mag wheels. I loved it!

However, with a growing family, I don't think a 2 door fast as hell camaro was needed.

M.Lane said...

Julie, you are RIGHT!! She is almost a dead ringer for her! If Stevie ever had that wriggle your nose thing going from Bewitched it would have been ALL OVER for me!

D&D, that is a great point! I would have really wondered what was up if my dad had pulled up in a muscle car!!

Thanks for your visits!
ML

tintin said...

My dad pulled up in a white '68 Dodge Charger. No one in my family said a thing.

M.Lane said...

Tintin, why doesn't that surprise me? What a car!

ML

Petunia said...

Went to the Hell Freezes Over concert! LOVE Fleetwood Mac--saw them in the front row (without Stevie Nicks--yeah, I know that hardly counts).
You don't have to explain anything to me! ;-)

M.Lane said...

Petunia, I am SO jealous!

ML

Mom on the Run said...

The rich farm kids had trans ams and firebirds at my high school. One of my friends (a girl) had the "redbird"....ah how I coveted that!

I had a Pontiac Ventura (the same as the Chevy Nova). Sucks being a townie.

M.Lane said...

MOR, I know what you mean! A young lady I knew in HS had the pale sky blue special edition!!

I saw her for the first time since 1977 a couple of months ago and I said "you had the greatest car" and she just laughed!! But she knew exactly what I meant...

ML