Tomorrow will be my last day as the Editor-In-Chief pro tem of The Truth About Cars. This was always meant to be a temporary situation, despite what some of the B&B thought. Given some of the differences in opinion I have recently had with TTAC’s owners, this is a good time for us to call it quits. I will not be replaced; the site will be managed by the leadership team at VerticalScope in Toronto and Derek will continue in his capacity as Managing Editor. There will be other changes, detailed below.
I made some promises to you, the readers, and I’d like to discuss whether or not those promises have been kept. But the tl;dr crowd can best understand the situation like this: TTAC is basically Fleetwood Mac.
The original Fleetwood Mac was founded by Peter Green, who was a one-of-a-kind talent. Kind of like Robert Farago, our august founder. Like him or hate him, there is only one Robert Farago and when he brought me on at TTAC I was humbled and thrilled all at once.
When Peter Green left the Mac due to a variety of issues, the band hoped that Danny Kirwan would be able to fill Green’s shoes. The problem was that Danny sounded kind of like a copy of Peter Green, only younger and with less experience, and he couldn’t come up with the original ideas that Peter Green generated seemingly without effort. You can say that Ed Niedermeyer was like Danny Kirwan. From a distance, his writing kind of looked like Robert’s, but it wasn’t quite the same thing. Which is not to say that Ed wasn’t occasionally bang-on correct about things, because he was.
Desperately seeking someone to lead the band, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie hired a fellow named Bob Welch, who took the band in a completely different direction. Some of the music was pretty good, some of it was terrible, almost none of it was memorable. The Welch era is more notable for the lawsuits and the personnel conflicts and the “fake Mac” tour and a bunch of other things that were fundamentally tangential to the business of making great tunes. You could say that Bertel was kind of the Bob Welch of TTAC. Sometimes he’d come up with a really great post but most of the time he was busy stirring controversy and pushing an agenda.
All true Fleetwood Mac fans know what happened next: they hired Lindsey Buckingham, who brought Stevie Nicks along with him. That’s how the Mac went from a great blues band to a lousy one to a bad pop band to a great one. Lindsey wasn’t interested in playing the blues and he wasn’t interested in the detritus of the music business. He just wanted to write, and play, the hits.
During my time at TTAC I’ve tried to be Lindsey Buckingham. Much of what made TTAC great — the Deathwatch, the bailout hysteria, the seek-and-destroy reviews of otherwise unremarkable cars — wasn’t relevant or topical any more, so I let it go. Instead, I focused on bringing the readers into the picture, expanding our range of coverage, and updating the site so it had a fighting chance against the Leviathans of the auto-blogging world.
Last July, I made some promises to the readers. How’d I do?
I promised a TTAC Homecoming. We unbanned everybody and in general it worked. We’ve banned five users in twelve months by my count and at least two of them were directly related to the site’s previous management. No dunce hats, no Top Troll stupidity. I trusted you and you all came through.
I said we’d have Accountability and Civility, and I believe that goal was mostly met. No dildo pictures, no shibari rope bondage, no creepy Asian-girl fetish material. Every once in a while things got openly political. Sometimes it was my fault. However, during my tenure we expanded the writer base to include contributors from every political and personal walk of life. My greatest failure as TTAC’s editor, I think, was that I was unable to prevent one of those contributors, Alex Dykes, from parting ways with us. I apologize for that wholeheartedly. You can find him on my blog, jackbaruth.com, if you want to.
We tried to Refocus on the B&B and Open The Conversation. In the past year, reader submissions and reader-ride reviews are through the ceiling. Thank you for that. I believe that the private discussions I had with wayward commenters were mostly successful as well.
I promised you The Truth and only you can determine how well I delivered.
After some discussion with Derek and the site management, I’ve agreed to stay on until the end of the year as a contributor. You won’t see me on these pages nearly as often. If you want to read work by me and Bark M., I’d encourage you to check out Road&Track, both online and print. My blog, JackBaruth.com, tracks my major contributions and has a bunch of stupid guitar pictures. Many of the contributors whom I’ve worked with on this site will stay with me until the end of the year and some may stay beyond that.
Last but not least, I’ll be releasing a book, tentatively titled Avoidable Contact: A Jack Baruth Reader, in October. Like The Itchy And Scratchy Movie, it will have at least 30% new content.
And now is the time where I say something personal. So check it out, right? I’ve tried every approach to living. I’ve tried, tried it all. I haven’t tried every thing, but I’ve tried every approach. Sometimes you don’t have to try every thing to get the approach the same.
I tried it all, I bought a bunch of stuff and went: “eh, I don’t like that”, I kinda came in and out of that a couple of times. I thought I would shut myself off, I thought maybe that’s cool. Maybe that’s what you have to do to be a genius, is you have to be mad. So if you get “mad” before the word “genius”, then maybe you can make genius appear, right?
That doesn’t work either. And I’m in a good place, I’ve paced myself pretty well. I’m forty-two, I’ve seen some cool stuff. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself. I made a lot of stuff happen for myself, right. That’s a really cool sentence when you’re in your thirties. “I made it happen for myself.”
But all that means is that I’ve just somehow or another found another way to synthesize automotive expertise or synthesize hooning. But you can’t get that. And what I’m saying is that I’ve messed with all the approaches, except for one and it’s gonna sound really corny but that’s just love. That’s just love.
I’ve done everything in my life that I’ve wanted to do except just give and feel love for my living. And I don’t mean like, Roman-candle-firework-Hollywood-hot-pink-love. I mean like: I-got-your-back love.
I don’t need to hear “I love you.” You guys love me, I love you. We got that down. But some of the people who will tell you they love you, are the same people will be the last to just have your back.
So, I’m gonna experiment with this love thing. Giving love, feeling love. I know it sounds really corny but it’s the last thing I got to check out, before I check out.
Take me to the solo! So long, and thanks for all the fish!
Photo credits: Michelle Baruth, Bobby Ang, Drama McHourglass aka Xtina Rivera, Rachel Gibbs