Tag Archives: Toyota

I hate to say this, but…

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…this may be the year when people aside from my kids get really tired of me saying “I told you so” all the time. Case in point: this blog post detailing how Toyota is worried about being perceived as an old people’s car. They have replaced Sly and the Family Stone in their ads with a band I’ve never heard of, which must mean they’ll attract that youthful demographic, right? You know, the youth who have no student loan debt, pristine credit, and jobs which pay them enough to afford a new car. Right.

I am also reading with interest the nervous reports from the Left about Barack Obama flip-flopping on the FISA bill, public election financing, and other issues. This is being written about ad nauseum in blogs the world over, so I won’t waste too much time on it. Just to be clear, I’ve got no problem with Obama being a centrist Democrat. I just had a problem with the people who insisted (and still insist) that he’s not. Now that he has been revealed as a mere mortal with an affinity for power, I hope people vote for him anyway.

That’s it for me this week. I wish I had something more interesting to post, but I guess I’m on bereavement leave for a while. I am wrung out, and not only from the extreme heat and terrible air quality around here. Hopefully I can get back to my weekly blogging schedule before too long.

On a positive note, even amidst the surreality of my father’s death I have come up with a couple potentially amusing future blog topics. Yesterday, for instance, I met a friend at the excellent Green Apple Books in SF. As I browsed through the voluminous used book bins out front, I realized that there is a whole list of rules to be generated on how to quickly weed out promising bargain books from immediate rejects. The first rule on the list: anything with “idiom” in the title is automatically thrown out. Even though it’s probably the cheapest book in there. (92¢!)

Prius is the New Buick

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It’s funny how the generations relate to each other. Having been born at the tail end of the baby boom, I have had a love-hate relationship with my fellow boomers since I was young enough to know what was cool. The 60’s were cool, damn it, and I had been born 10 years too late to really say I had been there.

Cutting high school to hear Daniel Ellsberg speak in Sproul Plaza in 1978 seemed just, well, derivative. Seeing Crosby Stills & Nash or Emerson Lake & Palmer around the same time was to see not a heyday but a sad, substance-laden dénouement, the dregs of a really good party a decade earlier.

Like a perpetual younger sibling, I lived in envy of the generation that had come just a little before me. And they knew it, too—walking down the street as though being the generation to march in Selma and organize a Be-In gave them some sort of lifetime coolness credential.

Over the last ten years or so that has started to shift. Gradually, for instance, it has dawned on me that I am still in my prime while they are looking kind of old. By extension, many of the things held sacred by elder boomers are getting close to being the opposite of cool—of being places where cool goes to die.

Take cars, for instance. As my car gets close to the 250,000 mile marker, I have started looking around at the new hybrids on the road—Northern California roadways are chock full of them—and many are being driven by baby boomers. By far the ride of choice for conscientious boomers is the Toyota Prius, with the almost iconic rear window that dips down below the trunk hood.

I thought they were pretty cool for the first few years, but I have noticed a disturbing trend of late. Increasingly, Prius owners are turning into the elderly drivers we usually see in Oldsmobiles and Buick sedans. They drive slowly, even in the fast lane. They brake for a stoplight a good 500 yards before it arrives. They see no need to signal before turning, as though a half-mile of crawling along the roadway were enough to alert the cars behind them of their intentions. They will become a Prius marketing problem, if this West Coast trend spreads to other regions.

I have an uneven record of prognostication. Don’t expect me to choose the shortest line at the checkout counter. I can’t predict an election to save my life. But now and again I do have a moment of clarity, where the pathway from the present to the future unfurls effortlessly and I can see the signposts as clear as day. This feels like one of those moments.

If you are looking for a great car that will also have a cachet of cool for the next decade, you might want to look beyond the Prius. It is absolutely a great car, but I believe its days as a style trendsetter are numbered.

Was this important enough to warrant a blog post? Probably not. I am even chagrined that a perfectly fine moment of clarity was somehow duped into predicting car fashion trends. But sometimes it’s this type of thing that grabs hold of my mind and demands to be written.

As long as my car holds out, I plan to keep scanning the lanes to see what new cars are likely to capture the twin crowns of greatness and coolness and hold them for a while. Because here in California, we might say we don’t care about cool, but that’s only when we’re too cool to care.