By on January 11, 2017

Child with mother in 2018 Honda Odyssey, Image: American Honda

Here’s a free lesson in life that you can use everywhere you go: corporate “morality” is almost always both flexible and highly subject to local gravitational influences. How else to explain the red-white-and-blue-painted previous-generation Camry, festooned with traditionally American imagery, that greeted visitors to the Detroit show on Monday? Maybe Toyota had two of them ready to go after the election, the way that T-shirt manufacturers prepare for both Super Bowl winners. Presumably the other Camry was a triple livery; the first third would have been a rainbow flag that called to mind both #LoveWins and #JeffGordonDivorce, the middle third would have been totally Islammed-out with the star and crescent just like my old Pakistan Express race car, and the trunk area would have paid tribute to the #ShoutYourAbortion movement while also tipping its fedora to written consent in triplicate for all sexual encounters.

Ah, but if wishes were fishes they would have served cruelty-free salmon at the meeting of the Electoral College. So the various pampered-but-oh-so-woke “journalists” attending the NAIAS were forced to taste the salt of their own bitter tears streaming down their cheeks as every manufacturer with even a token presence in the United States waved the red (imperialist), white (racist), and blue (sexist) flag in their press conferences.

Naturally, Honda sent one of the strongest messages; it’s arguably the most American automaker on the God Emperor’s green earth and the bulk of the cars it sells here were designed, engineered, and built in the USA.

The new Odyssey doesn’t buck this trend; to the contrary, it embraces it, right down to the new U.S.-sourced 10-speed transmission. But it’s also at the very vanguard (pardon the pun) of another, equally important, aspect of the zeitgeist. Let’s call it The Era Of The Imperial Child.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a child riding in the fully-equipped version of the new 2018 Odyssey. Before you enter the vehicle, the seats will be arranged for your maximum convenience. Every effort has been made to make your environment as quiet as possible and to isolate you from all unpleasant noise. You may have your seat placed right next to your friend, or be separated from your fussy sister by a full empty seat’s width. You’ll have a selection of media available to you at all times. Using your smartphone, you can send music to the entertainment system, but you can also choose to consume the movie of your choice by yourself. At any time, you can call up a screen letting you know how far you’ve traveled and how far away your destination is in both time and distance. If the driver needs to talk to you, they can briefly interrupt your movie to give you a message. Your health and well-being will be continually monitored via video.

Some of you who are not children will find the preceding description oddly reminiscent of business-class air travel. I don’t think that’s an accident. We are an increasingly stratified, socially-immobile society, and nowhere is that more evident than in the queue for a commercial flight. The Honda Odyssey, in Touring Elite form, is already a remarkably expensive vehicle, ringing the cash register for $46,000 or more; its customers are upper-middle-class individuals who are accustomed to business-class upgrades and the peculiar perks that come with them. Why shouldn’t their children have a similar experience on the road between the private school and the soccer-coaching facility or the stable where their dressage horse lives?

“So what?” you say. “Rich kids have always had it easy.” This is true enough, although any child with extensive experience at an English public school might disagree with the word “easy.” Let’s say instead the children of the comfortable have always been isolated from the slings and arrows of everyday fortune. Yet it was not always quite this blatant. The rear-passenger accommodations in the finest Chevrolet Kingswood Estate were really no different from what you found in the cheapest Chevelle wagon. There was a non-trivial distinction in the minds of manufacturers both domestic and foreign between the needs of wealthy children and the needs of wealthy adults who wished to ride in the back seat. The latter got the individual velour chairs of a Cadillac Talisman; the former got a vinyl bench in a Vista Cruiser. This sort of discrimination was the norm well into the Eighties; I can well recall the day my father brought his ice-blue 1981 Century Wagon home. The front seats were thick velour with individual armrests. Brother Bark and I were banished to a formaldehyde-scented flat bench that could melt your skin in a second during the summer.

It would be difficult to point to the precise moment child-pampering became a major feature of passenger automobiles. Maybe it was the day that you could get dual sliding doors in something besides a Nissan Stanza Wagon. Perhaps it was when the first factory-spec DVD players arrived. If you like, you can point to the conversion-van phenomenon as the beginning of the trend, but even at the absolute apex of velour vanning there was just a whiff of “Not Our Kind, Dear” about the stripe-festooned products of Elkhart, Indiana. Many were the upper-class sprogs who, trapped on the searing-hot back bench of a Saab 900 Turbo five-door, cast an envious glance or two at the smiling kids tumbling out of an Explorer conversion in the Pizza Hut parking lot. It would be another 20 years until it would be socially acceptable to get a van chock-full of passenger-entertainment features, and by then those Saab-sentenced children had children of their own.

How felicitous by contrast is the life of the new Imperial Child in the new Honda Odyssey! He or she is already lucky, of course; he has very few siblings compared to his ancestors, so he receives a disproportionate amount of everything from parental attention to trust fund mojo. His parents have taken care to live in a neighborhood free from annoying poors, unless they are deliberately slumming in a “diverse” downtown center, at which point they take care to send him to a private school where the only diversity comes from a carefully-curated and homeopathically-tiny selection of scholarship minorities. Unless he makes a very serious life mistake during the very few unsupervised moments he will experience between now and his 25th year, he is virtually guaranteed a place in the American junta, working some vaguely-defined job in the financial or political sectors that offers breathtaking compensation for very little effort.

And how silently, how smoothly his Honda Odyssey Touring Elite Business Class Edition or whatever they’ll call it slides by the proles in vehicular steerage! The squabbling Jesus-freak over-populators crammed cheek-by-jowl into pre-owned domestic-brand minivans, the black kids tumbling unbelted in the back seats of Mitsubishis and Pontiacs, the “undocumented” Mexican children who roam the SuperCabs of blue-smoke-trailing F-150s. Does he even see them, or is he completely occupied by his video game, his animated sequel, the pop track he’s peremptorily uploaded to the Odyssey’s central brain?

Yet something is missing, some undefined lack that tickles his backbrain in the parlor silence. For a moment, he looks ahead and sees his parents locked in a conversation of their own, perhaps captivated by their own media. Separate but equal, near but distant. If they have anything to tell him, any wisdom to impart, any affection in their hearts they have not already redirected to their own imperial selves, it will not filter through this electronic curtain of distractions to him. His parents will forever be strangers.

They are the true beneficiaries of the Honda Odyssey, you see; these parents have paid to be free of their children, to extend their own imperial childhood past the 20s they were promised for themselves and the 30s they mostly took as dessert to the main course of collegiate self-obsession before reluctantly commissioning a pair of designer babies and enduring a pair of high-risk pregnancies. Having been given everything already, they are reluctant to give any of it back. The business-class model is by their command, their dearest wish. They have reduced their spouses, and their children, to the status of mere fellow passengers. Isolated, protected from each other, traveling together, but traveling alone just the same, that supreme luxury, to focus on myself. Myself. Me. I.

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304 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: Honda Odyssey and the Era of the Imperial Child...”


  • avatar
    Verbal

    All that and never once did Jack invoke the term “special snowflake”. Excellent!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Haha, no, but Dan Wallach did use that term in his SmartDeviceLink piece today.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/01/smartdevicelink-introduces-target-rich-environment-car-hackers/

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Are millenial parents merely selfish as JB alleges? Well I grew up in an era when we put my infant brother in the little cubby over the engine of a VW Beetle, because it was just the right size and since the Beetle had no heater, it kept him warm. Noxious fumes, bah who even thought about that?

    Later had a Country Squire. Yep sat in the very back with the back window open and no seatbelts. Again noxious fumes, but who cared?

    When The Old Man finally had real money he purchased PLC’s. Crammed 3 teenage boys into the back for family trips. Nothing like driving straight from Detroit to Florida with 3 teenager boys crammed into the back of a Mark IV. No DVD player, no internet connections, not even any windows to look out of. When things got too intense The Old Man would just take a backward swing. Too bad for the one that he connected with.

    So no, I do not begrudge new parents their comforts and am a firm believer in having 3 rows of seating for those transporting children.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      One of these Imperial Moms must have turned him down.

      12 paragraphs of hate plasma for the stuck-up wench!

    • 0 avatar

      We had up to four siblings crammed into my Dad’s Mark IV during our multiple moves, and I’m fairly positive that we didn’t wear seatbelts (my older brother or I usually sat in the front, again, sans seatbelt).

      Now my kiddo is well-strapped into a Britax open-ish cocoon in the middle of the backseat in our new CRV.

      Times…they’re a-changin’.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Even though I was born in the early nineties, my father (who must have been inspired by the whole N.W.A. movement) used a restored 1964 Chevrolet Impala coupe (327 ci V8, three-speed PowerGlide) as a daily-driver, until I myself was old enough to drive. It had only lap belts in the front and no belts in the rear. He would secure my sister and her car seat in the front, but I remained unbelted in the rear.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      Not selfish. Told to invest personally in their children in order to compete with the world of the future. Personal responsibility over nurturing their child instead of relying on institutions like schools or daycares.theyre not indulging in themselves, but taking care of their family.

      The world is getting more hierarchical. Going to college is not enough. It’s about where you go to college. It’s not if you get a job in the finance world, but where you work and what your title is. Life is tough, and there is no dignity being at the bottom.

  • avatar
    kimnkk

    JB does it again, well written and rings so true on so many levels. Love it!

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I rode in a loaded up Odyssey a couple months ago when a coworker gave me a lift. I think it was a 2014 – and I was entirely shocked at the levels of luxury in the rear foyer.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      We bought our kid hauler a couple years ago – loaded Santa Fe. Our son doesn’t use them yet since he’s still in a car seat (and will be for several more years), but I’ll be damned if I don’t enjoy having heated leather captain’s chairs in the back on the once in a blue moon occasion I’m back there.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “vaguely-defined job in the financial or political sectors that offers breathtaking compensation for very little effort”.
    .
    At first I thought ‘ gimme one of them !’ .
    .
    Then I realized that for millions of us, our work defines who we are as well as an enjoyable way to pass they days .
    .
    A fun read in any case Jack .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Man, you’re making me feel GREAT for toting my family around in an old Astro.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    An excellent book called The Fourth Turning has a great perspective on this. Basically, every 80 years the generations repeat themselves. Neil Howe sums it up well on the Art of Manliness podcast.

    Look back 80 years and you’ll find lots of parallels:
    – The dawn of child psychology
    – The creation of children’s toys (enabled by mass production, but generations use technology according to their values)
    – Education reform, mandatory schooling
    – Shift of home life to focus on the child

    These children were lampooned as soft. They were the millennials of the prior century. They were born mostly prior to financial upheaval and came of age in a time of austerity. Their career options were greatly reduced from those available to their parents in the 1920s. Then they fought WWII and straight-up delivered. We look at them now as the “greatest generation” but they weren’t predicted to be.

    Generational theory is a sidebar to the Imperial Child, but essential to understand. What the parents of the 1920s left behind was a raised bar for childhood. When these raised bars enable new industries, these standards are maintained as long as possible (see Christmas since about the same period). Booster seats make children safe, but even better, they create jobs.

    So we’re seeing a new high bar for raising a child “correctly”. It’s already woven into how we do things (for everyone except childless adults). These new American standards are what immigrant parents aspire to.

    What I’m not mentioning is that every 80 years the fourth generation is doomed to live through a conflict that either changes the world order or threatens societal fabric (going backwards: WWII, civil war, American revolution, King Philips War, Armada war) The Boomers of the time bitch about the Millenials of the time, while the Millenials of the time becomes like their grandfathers.

    Fun!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I seriously just was talking about that book last night.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      This Millenial needs to read that book.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “What I’m not mentioning is that every 80 years the fourth generation is doomed to live through a conflict that either changes the world order or threatens societal fabric”

      #putinspeeotus

      All kidding aside, sounds like a good read.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Ha! No it’s good kidding, I like it. But reading the book made me think that Trump might be one of a finite set of outcomes, and therefore not as much of a wild card as broadly assumed.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I see some of this with the Millenials attraction to the “mid century modern” design language in housing and furniture.
      The first house we bought was an all brick, single story ranch that did not generate much interest from the boomers when we put it up for sale in 1995. Today, the real estate people I know say that the millenials would fight over that house. Still better deal than an overpriced and taxed McMansion.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        Yes, there are in fact non-BMW type Millennials who enjoy homes with some character!

      • 0 avatar
        thunderjet

        I’m a Millennial and have this same weird attraction. I actually bought/live in a mid-century home (built in 1956).

        • 0 avatar
          ericb91

          Yep, me too. I’m a 25-year-old, married father of two living in a single-story brick ranch built in 1961. In the attached 2-car garage resides a 2010 Honda Odyssey LX ($193/month, base model) and a 2001 Toyota Camry LE. At the same time I am both super-millenial and anti-millenial. Wow.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Interesting read Jack, there’s a lot to unpack here.

    I’ll go for the low hanging fruit instead: when did child-pampering become a priority in cars. I view the onboard DVD player as the turning point. No longer did kids need to have an iota of patience or a general interest in the surroundings on drives. Now you can shut them up and keep them passive and ensure a future adult attention span of mere minutes by letting them watch videos on 10-minute jaunts across town.

    We’re doing everything we can to keep our kids of that crack. At 4, they spent 8 hours in the car on a roadtrip without any digital media and did just fine. We actually were able to interact with them, even if that meant talking them through a few fussy impatient moments.

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      In-Car entertainment is a parent sanity saving feature, at the cost of building more abstraction between parent and child.

      Of course, I would say the same about in-flight entertainment on airplanes for flight attendants, except it clearly works in everybody’s favor.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I would consider in-flight stuff a different matter, since most plane trips are at least a few hours. Never mind anything across an ocean.

        on the other hand, I’ve known people who religiously flip on the DVD system just for the 15 minute drive to the store.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      I agree with you on the point on the child-pampering timeline, 30-mile.

      As an employer, I applaud your efforts to create spawn who can carry on intelligent conversation. You are one of the rare ones. Perhaps you even call your kids by their name instead of “buddy”.

      • 0 avatar
        sco

        “You are one of the rare ones. Perhaps you even call your kids by their name instead of “buddy”.”

        Way too funny, and so true. May also call wife by first name instead of “babe”

    • 0 avatar
      240SX_KAT

      In-car pampering began when the first yuppies started having kids.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Yep. We passed the time playing games such as “I spy with my little eye,” travel bingo, and fighting with our siblings.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      One point regarding video and the kids:

      I never thought I would buy a car with a DVD screen (or give the toddler a tablet) but here’s the thing. Most of the time, if you put him in the car he goes to sleep.

      When the choice is have the kid fall asleep on the way to the store only to be woken up and cranky while getting groceries or let him watch some classic ’90s cartoons on DVD (none of this Spongebob crap) and have him awake and reasonable when we get there, I’ll take the latter every time.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Jack, you must have been enjoying some Ketel One when you wrote this. And boy, you Trump people are sore winners.

    People who fly business class and are able to endow trust funds are not buying Odysseys. They buy Range Rovers, GL-Classes, Yukon XL Denalis, or LX 570s if they are conspicuous consumers, or MDXes, RX350s, Pilots, and Highlanders if they are conspicuously sensible. Minivans are very much “not our kind, dear,” even leather-lined ones with $46,000 pricetags.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’m trying to view it as very tongue in cheek. It helps a bit because I generally like his writing and want to continue to do so.

      Here’s some fun irony, though:

      “Unless he makes a very serious life mistake during the very few unsupervised moments he will experience between now and his 25th year, he is virtually guaranteed a place in the American junta, working some vaguely-defined job in the financial or political sectors that offers breathtaking compensation for very little effort.”

      A big howdy to the new President-elect. I’m sure he’ll help all “the proles in vehicular steerage”.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I love Jack’s voice, even when his opinions drive me crazy and are phrased just a bit too aggressively to be really tongue-in-cheek. I solve the contradiction by reading but making p!ssed-off comments.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you on the no-minivans-in-the-Vineyard assertion, though. There is absolutely a minivan floating around many of the best homes, even if it’s mostly driven by the nanny.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I live in the crappiest house in a neighborhood of zoning-blessed homes that are mostly worth more than twice what my house is worth.

            There are no minivans anywhere in my neighborhood.

            There are quite a few Range Rovers, some Mercedes and Lexus SUVs of both sizes, more MDXes and RXes (most of the latter being hybrids) than I can count, and a single lonely Escalade belonging to my next-door neighbor.

            Most of the second cars are Subarus or Priuses, necessary accessories in the City of Seattle.

            No minivans around when I lived in DC or Boston, either. Maybe the scene is different once you get away from coastal cities.

          • 0 avatar
            PenguinBoy

            “There is absolutely a minivan floating around many of the best homes, even if it’s mostly driven by the nanny.”

            I’ve seen this too. I recently saw a minivan in front of a house in a very affluent inner city neighbourhood that was purchased so the nanny could haul the kids around. It was an Odyssey…

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            dal, people in Seattle, Boston and DC are way to smart and cool to drive a minivan…..guess you didn’t see the memo

        • 0 avatar
          jansob

          Totally….I dislike the recent trend of only liking an author if he or she exactly mirrors one’s views….boring! I disagree with about a third of Jack’s opinions, but love the fact that he doesn’t beat round the bush.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        That sure doesn’t sound upper middle class to me. I’m in the UMC, and it’s a rare occasion I step aboard an airliner, and I’ve never flown business or first class in my entire life.

        We did have an Odyssey and got the rear entertainment system. It’s as much for the parents as the children as it keeps them occupied on those long distance drives since airline travel is generally out of our budgets. The fancified stuff he mentions in the high zoot Ody is there because it’s so bloody cheap to add these days.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      It is true that some of the very rich will buy a luxury SUV rather than a mini-van. But there is also a segment that Jack was referring to, who will once they have a child go and buy a top spec Odyssey or Sienna (typically Odyssey). That is one child when a Minivan is definitely not needed.

      An old neighbor of mine in the triangle region of North Carolina had a Ford Escape and a Mazda 3 (she was a HR Director working from home and he was an accountant). As soon as Baby #1 was due for the world out they went to buy a brand new top spec Odyssey. They fit the social group Jack was mentioning with their choice to send precious to a private Montessori school instead of the perfectly decent local elementary (which scored a 9 on the goodschool.com site). They are very nice people and great neighbours but a lot of what Jack wrote rings true.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Maybe a regional thing. Those people are in ample supply here, but the vehicle of choice is always a CUV or SUV and almost never a minivan. To those buyers minivans have a bit too much flavor of “scrabbling immigrant family of six” while CUVs are Cool Mom Vehicles. (I don’t get it either.)

        The minivan buyers, by contrast, are just like a buddy of mine that bought a new previous-generation Odyssey after learning his wife was pregnant with twins when they already had a 2-year-old. He’s a solidly employed professional, but is totally unconcerned about keeping up with the Joneses and will never have trust-fund money. I would have done exactly the same thing had my wife’s second pregnancy turned out to be twins.

        • 0 avatar
          kefkafloyd

          The theory is that people don’t want to drive what their parents drove, e.g. those who grew up in wagons eschewed them in favor of minivans, and now those minivan kids avoid them in favor of SUVs/CUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        “It is true that some of the very rich will buy a luxury SUV rather than a mini-van. But there is also a segment that Jack was referring to, who will once they have a child go and buy a top spec Odyssey or Sienna (typically Odyssey).”

        Around here, if these folks go for the Sienna it will be usually the AWD version.

        Twenty years ago, these folks were buying fully loaded Town & Countries; I expect Sergio is trying to get some of them back with the high zoot versions of the Pacifica. This will be tough, regardless of the merits of the product, since the Chrysler brand is so damaged at this point. But you can’t blame him for trying…

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        goodschool.com doesn’t exist. If you’re thinking of greatschools, its not entirely accurate. Its more of a “how is the school perceived” than how good is the school. I’ve seen schools do well on there and poorly on more objective measures like testing or average ACT/SAT scores. Also I’m not a rich person but when describing a school “perfectly decent” sounds like a synonym for “middling” which in my mind isn’t acceptable. An education is the single greatest thing you can buy your children. Good enough isn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Sorry, I got the web address wrong. It has a 10 point scale and using the standardized tests ranks schools as to which level they are. So a 9 is on the top 20% for the state. It also has reviews and other data which can be useful.
          Anyway the point was it was a good school, my 3 kids enjoyed it and the teachers were good.

    • 0 avatar

      Completely false. The parking lot of my son’s private school is lined with Odysseys and Siennas.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        This is simple. 3 kids or more = Ody or Sienna; maybe Denali. 2 kids or fewer = XC90 or Q7, maybe GLS.

      • 0 avatar
        Stevo

        Mark, completely false. The parking lot of my daughters’ private school is (almost) only darkened by the shadow of one minivan, when I drive in. Otherwise it is GL450’s, S550’s, Tesla’s, Panameras, Range Rovers, E550 AMG Wagons, etc etc. It’s regional. Medina, WA is not Medina, OH. (Yes, I know you live in KY.)

        • 0 avatar
          DirtRoads

          Come on, Steveo. Medina, WA is fucking Bellevue, for crying out loud. There’s nothing like that in any part of Kentucky I’ve ever seen. Bellevue on the damn lake, even.

          I’m calling you on your “completely false” assertion by referencing one of the most affluent parts of the entire state of Washington.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        If I broke down vehicle ownership at my two son’s private school, the minivans were owned by the middle class types like myself. Upper middleclass had the AWD vans and high end Odyssey Touting models. The “poor” rich types were in large domestic SUV’s. The ones that were a notch above were in Escalades and Infiniti QX80’s. The really rich were in Euro-brands like Mercedes and Range Rover.
        There were some that didn’t give a sh!t about image or pecking order but that was the exception to the norm.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Which is ironic to me. I think the Escalade screams “nouveau riche,” from its tarted-up Chevy Suburban underpinnings, to its gaudy shiny trim, to its overcompensating extra large grille ornament, to it’s “look at me, I’m rich now” name. And nouveau riche is really just a euphemism…

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          JimC2 – I live in a Northern logging town. There is no “old money”.

    • 0 avatar
      vtnoah

      Mario Batali drives his family around in an Odyssey. That guy’s got to be worth at least 100 million so there’s that.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Unless he inherited about 75 to 90 million, there’s no way he’s worth 100 million.

        I realize (I deal with HNW individuals constantly) that we are living through a period of American History where wealth inequality and stratification is higher and more disproportionate than at any time since the 20s and 30s (an observation, not NECESSARILY A MORAL JUDGMENT – though I have a strong opinion on this PROBLEM), but people tend to conflate the net worth of even celebrities (Prince left an estate that is worth between 150 and 300 million USD; Bobby Flay, Mario’s cohort, someone more restaurants than Mario, and has a bigger stake in FOODTV shows that are syndicated, had a provable net worth of 20mm as of his divorce some 14 months ago).

        But guys like Mario & Bobby & Prince earned it, relatively speaking.

        15 million in NET ASSET WORTH (with about 1 to 4 million in true, rock-solid liquidity, usually cash on hand) is technically a “super high net worth individual” for financial industry/investment marketing purposes.

        And think about this: Work income is taxed at approx 3x the rate (state and fed taxes combined) that asset appreciation/capital/dividend income is, so it’s much more efficient and faster to accumulate true wealth by means OTHER THAN WORKING.

        The mind-boggling wealth, that may OR MAY NOT have been earned (likely inherited), starts around that 100 million figure, and rises to the elite club of 200 million pretty quickly (meaning, there are still relatively few people having 200 million in genuine, liquid, NET – AFTER DEBT CONSIDERED – wealth).

        The mean of wealth stats skewed tremendously by those owning closely held businesses throwing off lots of cash in good times and/or those owning real estate outright in extremely posh areas of the nation/world and/or true celebrities of the A+ list type).

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Maybe they like to load the car seat / kid inside the garage (‘specially if it’s raining) – much easier with the sliding door(s). I think more practicality than some sort of regal trappings for spoiled brats… hell, the car seats these days look like they could be NASCAR certified — I imagine that stuffing one of those into the back of any SUV would be awkward.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I have yet to meet/speak with/interact with a single person who is actually happy Trump won. At best, supporters remind me of the scene in “Office Space” when they take a baseball bat to the copier; they are many things, but happy isn’t one of them.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Good writing, Jack. You make my point for me…I have been saying for the last several years that children and pets run today’s American household.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    If you use the word “woke” in earnest it should be legal for me to punch you.

    I was really underwhelmed by the show this year. Might as well have called the damned thing “North AMERICAN International AMERICA Show.”

  • avatar
    ajla

    I was born in 1985. All the rich kids growing up were ferried about in either Volvo wagons or full-size conversion vans.

    The richest kid had a conversion van equipped with a TV, a VCR, a Super Nintendo, a Sega Genesis, full window shades, and a little side fridge for sodas and seltzer.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I remember seeing a Roadmaster wagon tricked out with a small TV and Nintendo for the 2nd row at a local auto show back in 1994-ish. I had much lust for such a ride.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        On time on Ebay there was a very luxurious custom made early ’70s Cadillac wagon, which had IIRC a TV and car phone, and maybe a fridge.

        It was used as personal vehicle for The Jackson 5.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yep. I remember the conversion van being the “mom-mobile” for a fairly short period in between station wagons and minivans.

      I remember my aunt and uncle had a Pinto wagon back in the early ’80s. I had two cousins so I got to ride the driveshaft tunnel anytime we went anywhere in it.

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      1983, and same. The OEMs simply decided that they wanted a piece of that profit pie for themselves and did the work to start integrating the fluff into their own vans. You could have a Starcraft or a Mark III conversion van with raised roof, Flexsteel captain’s chairs, and all the entertainment options you desired.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        OTOH, full size vans were so miserable to drive they were quickly abandoned.

        • 0 avatar
          kefkafloyd

          You could buy a conversion van minivan, but they just did not sell, because people who wanted such a beast had the means to get a big van and saw a Grand Caravan as a penalty box. Astros/Safaris were more popular as smaller conversions.

          Plus, having large available V8s didn’t hurt the full-sizers.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I’m a millenial and I enjoyed a very comfortable back seat experience growing up, not due to the cars, but my baby boomer parents. We had a small tv and vcr that sat between the two front seats and went with us on any extended road trip (over about 2 or 3 hours). Before a cross country trip, we spent months recording episodes of our favorite shows and had dozens of tapes filled by the time we left. I had friends who’s parents splurged on the conversion vans with a full nintendo. We would make due with Sega Game Gears, but those went with us everywhere, with stocks of spare batteries at the ready. Current generations of kids are hardly the first to be indulging in lots of electronic media and millenial parents are hardly the first to be using it.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “I can well recall the day my father brought his ice-blue 1981 Century Wagon home.”

    I recal Dad’s 1992 Pontiac Bonneville. Rear Armrests! Legroom!

    Although it was not purchased until I was in college so I did not get to enjoy the spoils of his labor. I was carted around in 1982 Celebrity and a 1987 Cutlass Supreme Brougham sedan that somehow managed to have less rear seat legroom than the Celebrity.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    The truth hurts because it’s true.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I feel like manufacturers are starting to run out of those Big Ideas that truly made a difference in Minivans. Dual sliding doors, hands-free power sliding doors, below-the-floor storage, fold-away seats, rear seat entertainment. Those were huge features when they came out.

    Now the highlights are in-car apps and cameras in the ceiling. Interesting, but not “oh my god this is what the Minivan has been missing all this time!”

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The Odyssey’s vacuum cleaner was pretty mind-blowing to me, although I would have tried to fit a steam cleaner in there too. All that spilt organic milk…

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      And the in-car apps will be laughably outdated in just a couple years. All that wasted R&D. Just like with in-dash systems, the only sustainable (and the highest quality) solution is to improve access to one’s own device.

      HDMI-input hi-res monitors are all you need. Maybe with Chromecast built in. And a 2.4 amp charger.

      Everything else is folly.

      • 0 avatar
        Tsiah

        What I’d like to see in a van is what they get in the JDM Odyssey… 2.4L direct injection DOHC engine, CVT, AWD, 35mpg.

        We recently bought an 09 Odyssey, I intentionally found one sans rear entertainment and sans Navigation. If we go somewhere that’s a long enough drive that we feel like the kids can watch a show, we let them use the tablet.
        I kind of miss our Forester in some ways (mostly the fact that it got 7-8 more mpg than the Odyssey… Oh the AWD + snow tires kick ass in the winter.) but man, the Odyssey is a significantly more comfortable vehicle and it’s much easier get the baby in and out of her car seat inside our one car garage.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Don’t forget vacuum cleaners!

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      The “Next Big Thing” in minivans plays well into the social commentary Jack’s making here. It is something my wife has almost earnestly requested as we tote our brood around in our own Odyssey (11 years old, purchased used): a limo-like wall complete with roll-down tinted window to separate the chauffeur’s compartment from the rowdy children. With rear-control entertainment and electronic communication betwixt front and rearward seating rows in place all that’s left is the hardware separation.

      For the record I was the eldest of two children growing up in the 80s and have three kids of my own (my wife was one of three). We homeschool since even low-key private schools are prohibitively expensive but then neither of us works for our regulatory or financial overlords.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    In the old days road trips to visit the grandparents or take the summer vacation to Wally World were made in Country Squires and Kingswood Estates packed with two parents and 2.7 children, and chances were there was no A/C and an AM radio at best. But today’s intact families with 1.7 children that can afford a $40-50K leather lined, DVD playing minivan or 7 passenger SUV will more likely take a plane rather than road-trip, so all that luxury and entertainment is only used for the 10 minute trips to soccer practice. Same thing with sports cars – 200 mph and 1.2G capabilities that mostly get used on arrow-straight and tightly restricted Interstates and congested city streets. We now have so much capability and almost never use it.

  • avatar
    Chan

    No really long road trips for my kid yet, but we give him no food, no drinks and no toys during our in-town errands. A 1-hour trip out to San Francisco tests his patience, but we would concede some (non-electronic) toys or water/dry-ish snacks.

    It keeps the car (somewhat) clean.

    It keeps the tot looking outside for sensory stimulation.

    We talk instead of look down at electronic devices (which make us carsick anyway).

    True, having only one child helps, but this has worked quite well for us in staying away from electronic devices as a primary source of entertainment.

    I would estimate that for everyday use, something like an Odyssey or Sienna is really only needed for 3+ kids. That’s not to say that you should or should not buy one for a 1-child family, but then my wife despises large cars so we never had this discussion.

  • avatar
    clearance42

    Ouch. Look no further for evidence that the two Americas are completely disconnected from each other.

    Let’s hope in the next four years the smug, PC, corrupt, godless, elitist, crony capitalists of the coasts and the racist, homophobic, misogynist, uneducated, nationalist, gun owners of the fly-over states actually open real lines of communication. We’re all not so bad, really.

    That said, this kind of pampering and forced isolation is a) appalling and b) smart business. Ugh.

  • avatar
    bkojote

    Sorry JB, but while the ED crowd reminisces fondly of their Ford wagons with crank windows as some badge of honor, society progressed from this 3 decades ago. You had to sit on a vinyl bench? Cool story, but the fact cars then sucked at their intended purpose isn’t a merit point.

    Vans/Minivans have always been child first to everyone’s benefit. Growing up in the late 80’s / early 90’s, we had a GMC Vandura conversion van with an Audiovox VHS player in the back seat so we could watch the Disney knockoffs from the $5.00 bin at the gas station. We had cushy captains chairs with the finest mauve velour you could buy. It even had pin striping, cementing its place as a haute couture conveyance.

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    Great article! Although I know a couple with an all-leather Odyssey going on kid #4, the interior is probably shredded by now I’d think.

    …also how does Jack personally know the struggle of the common English public school pupil?

  • avatar
    suspekt

    As always, all roads lead to the 4th gen Acura TL SH-AWD…

    I have 3 children under 5….
    They ride in the back seat of my car on their respective booster seats.

    I understand the SUV-CUV craze. I understand the benefits of the wagon body-style.

    But, I can honestly say, I have rarely encountered the scenario where myself, wife, and 3 children ran out of room in the car/trunk for items we were carrying.

    I think its all mostly wretched excess.

    A TL SH-AWD on snow tires is a damn fun & safe way to travel with the family in the winter.

    From a fathers perspective travelling with young children,
    The glorious Honda J37 V6 paired with american made RV6 pre-cat deletes, K Tune software, and Comptech intake are all the music I need when the children lose their composure.

    Thank you Acura for a wonderful car that wonderfully suits my family of 5

    • 0 avatar
      doublechili

      I have a 4th gen Acura TL SH-AWD and very much want to agree with you and would have when my kids were both under 5 (and I had a Civic SI). But now that my kids are 10 and 12 and both playing travel soccer and also have guitar/piano lessons, baseball, basketball, lacrosse and additional school-related activities, etc. … the ability to throw lots of stuff in the back and, more importantly, the 3rd row of seats in my wife’s SUV that enables us to participate in car-pooling when you can’t be in 2 places at the same time, I can say that while the kids’ schedule is wretched excess – the SUV is merely a big help.

      BTW, when I was a kid the trust fund set drove big Mercedes wagons. And they were always kind of old – more often than not dark blue with the mustard-colored interior. I think they bought them new and then put them in a wine cellar for a few years to age before they started driving them.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    That kid is a high-functioning autistic. I can determine this by the nature of his gaze, the rigid right thumb that protrudes upward – probably 80%+ of the time, even while asleep -the prosthetic inserts that must fill his abnormally large shoes (to help diminish his abnormal & unbalanced gait), the angle of his head and neck as he immerses himself into “Teen Titans Go!” (which his mother is unaware is playing). His parents do their best to delude themselves that the diagnosis is incorrect, however, privately, and believe most of his abnormal behavior and physical attributes are “a phase” that will pass with time, most likely once he reaches puberty.

    And his mother is on heavy doses of benzodiazepines + vilazodone + THC in order to try to deal with both her a) compulsive shopping and gambling habits and b) full knowledge that her same-age spouse is having two affairs (one that is serious, romantically and emotionally charged that threatens her marriage and involves another married woman, and another purely sexual one – likely a consequence of his mid-life crisis – with his much younger 23-year old administrative assistant who also has a side gig as a yoga & pilates instructor 3x a week at night).

    She will end up assaulting her husband in a fairly violent way with a Wüsthof Classic Ikon 7-Inch Santoku, causing him to receive over 55 stitches to his forearms and abdomen, before being committed to a private psychiatric facility for ECT and other treatments (her husband will successfully pressure the prosecutors office, who he has pull with, to not charged under the automatic domestic violence ordinance, which would ordinarily require her to be automatically arrested and prosecuted for Class 1 Felony Domestic Assault, but rather use the incident as leverage to gain greater custodial rights and time in the upcoming divorce proceedings, which will be resolved amicably by binding arbitration).

    The child will excel in science & math, but be socially awkward, splitting time between summers with his father in Framington, MA, and the school year with his mother in Westchester, New York.

    The mother will trade the Odyssey in on a new Jaguar F-Pace First Edition, shortly after the divorce is finalized, and also receive breast augmentation, a tummy tuck, butt implants and a face lift along with every-6 month botox iinjections, as she also becomes workout-obsessed, after meeting her new 28-year old paramour, who is a former college athletic star, and now is a private trainer at her local Diamond-Level Lifetime Fitness.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    My folks replaced what they deemed an undersized, underpowered, and not particularly efficient or highway comfortable CR-V with a 2015 Odyssey. But no fancy screens in the back. Heck, they didn’t even go for navigation for themselves. Between the (relatively) big engine up front and the sheer size of the thing, and the suspension tuning, it’s more up their alley than the CR-V was ever going to be (that alley having previously been populated by huge station wagons).

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I suspect this is technological rather than social.

    If people in the 60s (or whatever misremembered “golden age” we’re pining for here) could have had rear AC and easily configurable seats and unlimited on-demand rear seat entertainment in their family trucksters they certainly would have.

    But the technology to affordably provide such things had not yet been invented, so they didn’t.

    They also didn’t get to enjoy disc brakes and fuel injection. So what?

    Enduring inferior technology is not a virtue. I don’t feel like I missed out as a result of not ever having to screw with ignition points.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    This is weird.

    Last night, I couldn’t sleep so I was reading online. Nothing interesting happening here on TTAC, so I browsed old cars like I always do for a little while.

    Inevitably, I found one I needed more info in. I went to Wikipedia.

    Two hours later, I was deep in reading about Imperial Japan, as well as the modern-day dispute of those islands I’m not even going to attempt to spell correctly.

    Now, here we have the Imperial Child, brought on by a Japanese (brand) minivan.

    I do wonder what will happen in the future when all these entitled kids grow up and expect everything to be easy, available at a moments notice, requiring little if any effort.
    What will happen when issues aren’t magically solving themselves with the touch of a button?
    When problems require critical thinking, and, God-forbid, honest hard labor to resolve?
    When you aren’t entertained 24/7 by on-demand TV/internet/social media accessible by a single device that fits in your pocket?

    Will they adapt, or give up when the going gets tough? I hope and pray for the former, but I strongly suspect the latter is more likely.

    Will any grow up to be plumbers? Factory workers? Farmers? Electricians? Car techs? Or will they all expect to go from party-your-ass-off college right into an upper management job where they will simply kick back and let everyone else do the hard work?

    It could be said that Mexican immigrants will pick up labor jobs, but there simply aren’t enough management-type jobs for every millennial American. Some will have to find “honest work” to be able to earn a living.

    But, after a useless 4 or more years in college majoring in some unnecessary subject that could only *possibly* lead to a job teaching others that very same incredibly useless and idiotic subject, will they pick up a broom and earn their keep?

    “Yep, I majored in late-18th century social economic climates and their affect on bird migration patterns in the southern hemisphere.”

    Great! I hear Boeing and GM and Apple and Johnson & Johnson and Dish network and General Electric are all hiring for that! Good job buddy! A well spent four years and tens of thousands of dollars.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      The alt.right attempt to convert post-secondary institutions to job training centres, mirrors what most totalitarian regimes do when they come to power, incarcerate or exterminate all the ‘intellectuals’.

      Post-secondary education is meant to train students in critical thinking, research techniques, writing and time management.

      These are all skills critical for the ‘new economy’. The average millenial will change ‘careers’ 4 times during their working life. That requires a large degree of adaptability and general knowledge.

      On the other hand an undereducated population is largely unable to think critical and therefore believes sound bites and easy answers to complex problems. They prefer ‘strong leaders’ who sway them through emotion rather than reason. But they do make good low wage worker drones.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree post-secondary education is supposed to educate students in critical thinking, research techniques, writing and time management. However post-secondary institutions in the US are largely leftist indoctrination centers in practice. Becoming totalitarian training centers is merely the pendulum swinging the other way, but in the end the aristocracy is pleased as the proles are still not being taught critical thinking skills or research techniques (lest the sheep start putting things together and come after their interests).

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Yep. That and it is possible to get a post-secondary education that educates you in intangible (but important) skills of time management, critical thinking, communication *and* gives you marketable skills- rather than some wishy washy, vaguely defined snowflake “major.” These days it’s pretty obvious which snowflakes got neither out of their post-secondary experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Arthur Dailey – your comment about ” incarcerate or exterminate all the ‘intellectuals’.” rings true. I read an article about Trump’s campaign and it was pointed out that it was an attack on the “intellectual” community as opposed to the wealthy elites that run politics and most everything else.
        Trump’s picks show that he isn’t draining the swamp but rotating the reptiles. Some say there is both good and bad that will come out of this. Oddly enough, the Trumpette’s who voted him in aren’t concerned about this.

        His press event today was a disaster and even Fox News is defending CNN. One headline read, “Trumps Press event, the theater of the absurd”.

        At the current pace of events, Michael Moore may turn out to be correct.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      JohnTaurus – So, anything other than manual labor should not be considered “honest, hard work”?

      We can’t all be tradesmen.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        One of the colleges with which I was affiliated once had thriving programs in television, typewriter, business equipment and electronic appliance repairs.

        How many of those skilled trades people ares still gainfully employed in those specialized trades?

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          A higher percentage than the number of art-school graduates currently making a living with art… or philosophy majors doing philosophy… or 18thCentury lit majors making money writing*.

          * that’s just one guy.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            As Robert Pirsig has insightfully pointed out, philosophy majors don’t learn how to do philosophy. They learn the philosophy output of others. It’s not reasonable to expect they would make a career in something they were not trained in.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Pirsig’s son was murdered because he was dicking around outside a Zen center because his father preferred philosophy to parenting. There’s some insight for you. My attitude towards that book changed from reverential to contemptuous the minute I had a son of my own. Not that I don’t continue to recommend it, however.

            And if you can’t make a living philosophizing, how much less living can you make absorbing the philosophy of others?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            And one could quite probably be more than any of the examples of skilled trades previously mentioned.

            Then there are the ancillary jobs in blogging, publishing, film making, web design, teaching, marketing, religion, and political strategy that philosophy and art grads have access to.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Chris Pirsig died at 24. I really can’t blame his father for that. And I cannot control what you believe if you choose to blame him.

            Pirsig’s first book is no more a parenting manual than it is a motorcycle repair manual.

            Philosophy majors-and liberal arts majors more broadly-often build critical thinking skills which are in high demand in the new economy. Apologies for polluting your diatribe with the ‘L’ word.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “And if you can’t make a living philosophizing, how much less living can you make absorbing the philosophy of others?”

            Carly Fiorina – history / philosophy major – would be happy to discuss it, if she’d actually find it worth her time to take any of our calls.

            I can find plenty of highly successful people who have “useless” liberal arts degrees like philosophy, Jack.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            In a world where we didn’t promote people for having a vagina, Carly Fiorina would be scrubbing a fuckin’ toilet and underqualified to do it.

            That woman ran one of the most important American business in history straight into the ground at Mach 5.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            What, I need to find examples of liberal arts majors with dicks who made it big in business to prove my point?

            No problem.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            What kind of job can you get with a liberal arts degree?
            Prime Minister of Canada.
            Also the Premier of Ontario.

            Game. set and match.

          • 0 avatar

            Those aren’t jobs.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            “What kind of job can you get with a liberal arts degree?
            Prime Minister of Canada.”

            Who just happens to be the son of a previous Prime Minister of Canada.

            “Carly Fiorina – history / philosophy major – would be happy to discuss it, if she’d actually find it worth her time to take any of our calls.”

            And her father was the Dean of Duke Law and later the #2 man at DOJ.

            You’ve given two textbook examples of what the liberal arts degree was invented for – for the children of the aristocracy to network with each other. A liberal arts degree that comes with an outstanding loan instead of a trust fund isn’t your ticket to run with the world with them.

            It’s your ticket to serve their coffee.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @Dan:

            Ah, I see…so, if you’re a successful person who came from money, your achievements must be mocked, even if you actually achieved something. And we all know that being elected as head of state for a nation, or becoming CEO of a company, aren’t achievements. I’m sure something far more compelling than either job title is on your resume, after all.

            And, of course, there’s not one single kid whose parents were rich, or politically connected (or both), who decided to do nothing but play tennis forever off his or her inheritance. Not one.

            And not one poor kid ever graduated with a liberal arts degree and made something of him or her self.

            Hard to argue with that kind of logic, I suppose…particularly when there’s no logic to argue with at all…

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @ Bark:

            “Those aren’t jobs.”

            “Head of state” is one of the most important jobs I can imagine.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N – I saw a video of some “self-help” guru blame the electronic age and parents allowing kids to be on devices all of the time. He compared the “high” from electronic interaction and “likes” to that of drug and alcohol addiction. It was interesting but he set off my bullsh!t meter when he started saying that “Corporate America” had to take over the job of the school system and parents to properly “train” these people to be adept at functioning appropriately in a corporate hierarchy.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Dan: Here are 2 lists of successful people who hold liberal arts degrees. They include Icahn, Eisner, Soros and Mulcahy. More than 30 in total.

        As for large student loans, blame the U.S. system of private colleges/universities. In most 1st world nations, the government heavily subsidizes post-secondary education. And the majority of colleges/universities are ‘public’.

        In fact starting this year in the Province of Ontario if your family income is less than $50k your undergraduate education is free (no tuition).

        http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-liberal-arts-majors-2012-12?op=1/#rbert-allison-jr-ex-fannie-mae-ceo-and-philosophy-major-at-yale-university-30

        http://time.com/3964415/ceo-degree-liberal-arts/

        As to you statement that is what the liberal arts degree was “invented for” sorry that is 100% incorrect as philosophy/’liberal arts’ degrees existed before the industrial revolution.

        • 0 avatar
          Pantherlove

          I went for a BS in Philosophy (har har har) and I’ve found it hasn’t slowed my career in IT down one whit. In fact I think it’s helped because it trained me to take complicated ideas and break them down so that others can understand them. I wasn’t thinking of its economic utility at the time I was studying it, though I can certainly understand why STEM degrees are necessary and why people would go after them for economic reasons. I just wanted to study something I was interested in.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Shhh, pantherlove…stop lying and admit that you MUST have actually been a business major.

            ‘Cause none of us liberal arts grads could EVER make anything of ourselves. Not in a million years. Liberal arts are a complete waste of time. Get with the program!

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Notice that Trump and George W who both were born into great privilege and inherited most of their wealth were not mentioned as among those who gained their position due to being born into the 1%.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Plenty of rich kids end up living off trust funds for life, and do nothing with the huge leg up they got up front.

          Like him or loathe him, it’s clear that Trump took whatever advantage he had and ran hard with it. In the end, he clearly didn’t blow off the opportunities he had early in life. I respect him for that, if nothing else. I just wish he’d have stuck to building ugly skyscrapers.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    And while I was understandably jealous that the “rich kids” in the Roadmaster Estate had a bubble roof and our Caprice didn’t, I took comfort in the fact the Chevy had a redesigned dashboard and the Buick didn’t.

  • avatar
    Mojohand2

    Someone once observed that an entry to any New Yorker cartoon caption contest can reliably be completed with the phrase “Christ, what an a*****e!”

    When a Baruth wants to write about motor vehicles – their qualities and how they’re designed, manufactured, sold, and driven safely and quickly, they’re always worth listening to.

    When they venture into pondering The Big Picture and What Does It All Mean, well, I’m invariably reminded of the cartoon contest.

    Today’s back-to-back postings illustrate this nicely.

  • avatar
    whynot

    An awful lot of words that can just be summed up as: cars are more comfortable today, with more amenities and creature comforts, then they were in the past.

    This is true no matter where the seat is located.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I dunno. We bought our Odyssey because we have 3 kids, a dog and lots of friends and family, and we liked the Honda best. This other stuff in Jack’s head had nothing to do with the reality of our purchase.

    People like to be pampered and want their kids to have it better than they did. The buyer of two Phaetons probably understands the pampering part. The ‘better for their kids part’ might be lost on a father who still owns a coupe like he thinks he’s 26 years old.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    TLDR can I have the one paragraph version or is it basically kids today are too entitled and have to much stuff? If so we could have just said that.

  • avatar
    the passenger

    I knew there was at least one more reason my wife and I chose to forego having children…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    One point Jack missed here: it’s not the Imperial Child, it’s the Imperial Mom and how it “democratized” cars for Mom and Dad. Allow me to explain.

    Back in the days when Jack’s and Bark’s hides were fried to a crispy brown on the back seat of the Buick wagon, we had Imperial Dad. That wagon was ***MOM’S CAR***. Dad went to work in something suitably fancy and Mom got stuck with the wagon. That’s the way it worked in my house. That’s the way it worked in about every house I knew of growing up.

    In the meantime, what did Dad drive? The roll call would make for a fairly entertaining episode of “Mecum Auctions” – a Citroen SM, a Mercedes 450SL, a Cadillac Eldorado, a BMW 730i, and on and on. They had all the latest toys, bells and whistles befitting a man of a certain station. Men like that stuff.

    But Mom’s ride during all that was the same – a ’75 Olds wagon (complete with the aforementioned butt-scorching vinyl seats). About 90% of Dad’s seat time in the Olds came when a) the Citroen wouldn’t start (about 40% of the time), b) it was too crappy to drive the expensive car downtown, or c) when we were heading up to Grandma’s house. One time, he was driving us all around in it and discovered the FM radio didn’t work (it was AM only). He was surprised. Mom’s response? “It’s been that way for years.” It never got fixed. Now, would Dad have put up with that in his 450SL? Not a chance in hell. He’d have threatened to burn the thing in front of the Mercedes dealer (don’t laugh, he once threatened the Citroen dealer with just that when he blew the engine on the SM doing 35 in second gear).

    And why was this arrangement so? Because Dad made the money and Mom took care of the house, so he got the cool stuff. I’m going to guess that the Baruth household had a similar setup. It was the era of Imperial Dad.

    Flash forward 40 years, and Mom is most likely not spending all her time at home with the little darlin’s – she’s out making a living, just like Dad. And there’s a good chance she makes just as much as Dad does. But Dad still likes gadgets, bells and whistles, just like he would have 40 years ago – the human male is hard-wired for that. At the same time, though, how do you tell someone who makes as much as you do, and “works as hard” as you do, that she has to suck hind t*t when it comes to the car? You can’t…at least if you want to stay married, or keep having intimate relations with the person you’re married to.

    Housewife Mom is now Imperial Mom.

    Thus, the car choices for Mom and Dad are equalized. If Mom’s making half the money, then she won’t deal very well with driving something crummy. If Mom’s stuck with a family car, then Dad has to be stuck with one too. If Mom’s stuck driving the kids around, Dad has to be too. Dad’s also involved in bringing up the kids now – he’s taking them to soccer practice, driving them to doctor’s appointments, picking them up from school, you name it – all the stuff that dads in my father’s generation were definitely NOT doing.

    So, dad’s going to be in the “family car” quite a bit of the time. And since Dad’s into his toys, the family car has to have all the latest bells and whistles. Guess what kind of vehicles has more toys and gadgets per square inch per dollar than any other one? Yep, that’d be the minivan. Hell, ask the Mercedes dealer if that $125,000 S-class has a vacuum, or a trunk you can open with your foot, or doors that open and close themselves, or an intercom system for talking to the passengers in the back seat. There is no more gadget-laden vehicle for the money than a minivan. It’s not even close.

    So, Dad ends up buying an Odyssey with the intercom system…because of Imperial Mom. If both parents have to be actual parents, then both of them have to drive kiddie-friendly vehicles. The Odyssey with all those toys is bought because it’s what he can get away with, if you think about it…no way a family man in a two-earner household would be able to roll up in a ‘Vette and expect sex, but he can get his “guy thing” on by loading up an Odyssey with all that cutting edge gear. The women I know could care less about that stuff; they just want to be able to tell their neighbors and friends how safe that van is.

    Add in the Imperial Child, and you have it.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      That sounds terrible. Can’t they just get one large car and one desirable car, and switch cars every other day?

      I’m glad that my wife has no interest in matching my taste for cars.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Nah, it’s not that bad. I’d say gender equality is a good thing. It just means changes.

        If I’d have been able to afford a top of the line minivan when my kids were little, I’d have gone for it in a minute.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Yea, FreedMike’s comment is a f*cking horror story. If that is the way most families live, I’m suddenly much happier with my lifestyle.

        It doesn’t sound like gender equality. It sounds like some bizarre, passive-agressive, sexual currency, mutual destruction sitcom-from-hell stuation.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          It is the way *many* families do live, ajla. I did to an extent, but I knew people who were FAR gone down this path.

          I knew my life had gone down a silly path when I drove down the street to my (barely affordable) house, and the theme from “American Beauty” began to play in my mind.

          But a lot of this is just simple 21st century reality, probably overplayed to an extent.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Agree with @FreedMike: Equality is not a bad thing. And trickle down economics have made it necessary.

            When I came of age, you could quit high school, go work for GM/Ford/Chrysler/Stelco/Inco etc at a highly paid blue collar, union job and afford to buy a detached home in the suburbs, a new car every 3 or 4 years, put your kids through college and have your wife stay at home to ‘take care of them’.

            How many jobs like that still exist in North America?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “And trickle down economics have made it necessary.”

            I have to call bullsh*t (not on you personally). While there are elements which may be a side effect of globalization (really just economic genocide) , “trickle down” was done (1) increase tax revenues by forcing more into the workforce and (2) destroy the nuclear family thus making the next big generation(s) more susceptible to state indoctrination.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            No, Arthur is partially right – the loss of high paying blue collar jobs is definitely one consequence of trickle down thinking. What he’s leaving out is that it created other economic opportunities for a different set of people.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Who?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Anyone who works in financial services, for starters, 28. That entire sector – which includes the mortgage business, where I work – has boomed since the Reagan years. It’s created a huge pool of wealth and jobs.

            The problem is that all this growth left too many blue collar workers behind. But my question is this: wasn’t it inevitable that the good times of “America is the lone industrial superpower” were bound to end once the world began to rebuild and catch up after WWII?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good post Freed, and I have to agree with Chan that sounds terrible. Look how far we have fallen in only forty years.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Fallen”?

        Depends on your perspective. What I’m talking about is basically a married couple being more equal partners in more facets of life. If that means half-the-family’s-income Dad has to drive a minivan, or other “mommy mobile,” versus tooling around in a Hellcat Challenger and letting half-the-income Mom do all the Mommy work, that’s what it means. The alternative is that Dad is just an a-hole.

        And my family may have been “old school” but it was far from perfect. Yes, Mom was at home, but Mom had a drinking problem, and Dad was gone about 60% of the time. It screwed my kid brothers up massively (I’m perfect, of course). And a few years before Dad died, he wasn’t particularly happy, despite having all the material success a kid who grew up as poor as he did could have ever have asked for. We had our share of happiness, but it was far from Leave It To Beaver.

        It’s just a different set of challenges.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Your own experiences taken into account, that’s still fallen in my view. Without getting all sociopolitical, from the automotive standpoint I will ride my 93 Volvo permanently and shade-tree it every weekend if I had to put my children into something completely safe (the only side effect I can think of is the wife getting all stuck uppity with me in general but I’d like to think i would choose better to begin with). This is what it means to be the provider, in my view. Basically, you’re expendable if it comes down to it, but you put yourself in the position for them.

          I knew a poor mechanic at my buddy’s shop with three kids whose family rode a MY91 Volvo 240 forever because they were simply poor (inherited house in bad neighborhood, public school, he worked at a diesel shop and then moonlighted for cash with my guy). I want to say his wife did not work, but I also recall someone telling me she was sick on and off and had drug problems but I don’t remember the whole story. When this guy finally saved a couple Gs he used it to buy a high miles but well serviced/documented Grand Caravan from a wholesaler we knew. He put the wife in the Caravan and drudged on with the Volvo which was well past 330 when something finally went on it. Last I saw this guy he was rolling around in a Cloud Car he got for free. I think he set the right example, in automotive terms.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            My thinking is that Mom and Dad have to agree on how the spoils of their joint labor get divvied up. That’s what I’m talking about, really. If she’s making half the money, then she is paying half the bills. Therefore, if she’s down with Dad tooling around in a brand new Challenger Hellcat, while she drives a dingy old Caravan, then no problem. That’s their business. But if not, then she has a right to say, “hey, I want something nice too, and it’s not fair that I have to do all the kid-transport in that old Dodge when I make half the money.”

            Marriage is all about compromise. If you can’t do that, then you can’t be married happily.

            (Believe me, I know…from experience)

            That means a lot of guys end up driving mommy-mobiles. Doesn’t mean they’re weak or emasculated – it means they worked it out with the wife. But if I were driving around in a van, you could be sure I’d deck it out with all the toys I could find. Why not? I’m a guy. We like that.

            That’s all I’m sayin’, really.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @28-Cars: You wrote: “This is what it means to be the provider, in my view. Basically, you’re expendable if it comes down to it, but you put yourself in the position for them.” And I agree with that 100%. That was how men of the ‘greatest generation’ generally behaved

            Unfortunately the ‘baby fathers’ and their like of current generations do not comprehend this universal truth behind the rise of civilization and instead put tend to put their own selfish/childish wants first. Right J.B?

            The turnaround is epitomized by how fathers were portrayed on TV. From the wise fathers of Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, etc to the 1980’s construct of Al Bundy as a ‘loser’ because he stayed loyal to his wife and worked everyday to support his family. Having to drive his miserable old Dodge so that they could have spending money.

            As for ‘trickle down’ the concept that if the 1% got richer their excess income would then trickle down to help everyone else has been proven false. Instead corporations sit on unprecedented amounts of capital, outsource and offshore. The rich spend their excess on foreign travel, foreign vehicles and often foreign made luxuries.

            In Canada and the UK they purchase multiple homes as investments and thereby drive up housing costs for others. And they can ‘buy’ their offsprings way into prestigious college programs, making it harder for the children of the rest of the population to get into these programs. In Ontario a ‘Conservative’ government even took the cap off programs like law school and business school driving the costs far beyond the reach of most.

            And in the immortal words of Al Bundy “they dine alfresco with their skinny 2nd wives while we’re left to drink beer and breed with peasant stock.”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Freed

            I see your overall argument and I personally am not the kind of person who is going to blow a substantial portion of family wealth on toys for myself on general principle. I suppose, as in the case of your father, there are men who feel differently. I can’t defend them because I disagree with this notion, but not on marriageable grounds, on fiscal ones.

            One of the reasons society is so f**ked up in my view, is because of these bullshit notions of equality. Equality in the eyes of the law does not translate into equality of skills, experiences, intelligence, strength, leadership, or decisionmaking. I’ve often said, we as people are the bell curve. Those who are exceptional in either direction are outliers but most quartiles fall into the middle to some degree. Women who find themselves in those quartiles will not be astronauts, they will not be presidents, their best move is to find someone who fits into their psychology and mate. Women seek leadership in men, and a good man does what is best for his family. Can a leader focus entirely on himself and his own narcissism? Yes, and as much as I disagree I would say it is permitted but I argue this is simply poor leadership and does a disservice to the family (no offense to your father whom I do not know).

            “Marriage is all about compromise. If you can’t do that, then you can’t be married happily.”

            I’ve heard this but I disagree. I think much of this “compromise” is based on a lack of resources. Instead of playing these games, my thought is to spend a little time on the philosophy of the Buddha (no I am not a Buddhist). This whole society is awash in material nothingness, and for what? What is really important? Minimilize your life, and resources can be redirected without a need for compromise. When it comes to my girlfriends and even my beloved fiancé, I had/have a tendency to spoil them to some degree but ultimately I called and would always call the financial shots. This is just how it is, and I’d be happy to roll past those well past due soccer moms in my MY93 240 (or ideally MY95 SC400) and scream “f*ck ya’ll” out the window because I didn’t have to spend $80,000 to fill a missing part of myself or my marriage.

            “That means a lot of guys end up driving mommy-mobiles. Doesn’t mean they’re weak or emasculated – it means they worked it out with the wife. ”

            Respectfully, I tend to think otherwise. The whole “swagger wagon” thing was a clever attempt to reframe what male owners really think about themselves. But it wasn’t just about the van, its the whole failed “modern” family and a man’s role [not] in it.

            @Arthur

            You make an interesting point on the segway from Leave to Beaver to Al Bundy, and Bundy was twenty five years ago no less.

            “Instead corporations sit on unprecedented amounts of capital, outsource and offshore. The rich spend their excess on foreign travel, foreign vehicles and often foreign made luxuries.”

            True

            “In Canada and the UK they purchase multiple homes as investments and thereby drive up housing costs for others. And they can ‘buy’ their offsprings way into prestigious college programs, making it harder for the children of the rest of the population to get into these programs. ”

            Probably true

            ““they dine alfresco with their skinny 2nd wives while we’re left to drink beer and breed with peasant stock.””

            Nailed it. Almost by design eh?

            Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            28, if you think marriage is a no-compromises deal, then you’re going to be in for a very rude shock once you’re married. :)

            Unless, of course, the person you’re marrying will acquiesce to your every wish. If that’s the case, then more power to ya. Otherwise, you’re looking at a (legally binding) partnership, and those don’t work unless both parties work with each other. Call it teamwork, call it compromise, call it what you will.

            I don’t really see this as emasculation. Not at all. If anything, what “equality” has done for men is to allow *us* opportunities that we really didn’t have before…like being a nurturing parent, versus being a living debit card.

            I have no idea where my kids would be if all I did was work a zillion hours a week and make tons of money.

            If a man wants to live like that, then I’m thinking he will choose a wife who is down with it. There are plenty of women who are like that, and there’s nothing wrong with this model. But, again, it’s a partnership. Both parties have to be OK with the arrangement.

            There’s no shortage of men who are better suited as “stay at home moms,” if you will. And if they hook up with a career oriented partner, that relationship works.

            You might see that as emasculation, and maybe it is *for you,* but other men might have a different take on it.

            That, 28, is the benefit of equality. People get to arrange their lives as they see fit. Are men and women “equal”? Of course not. There will always be offsetting strengths and weaknesses endemic to each sex. But without the idea of equality in concept, people aren’t free to be the best person they can be. They’re locked into roles that may not be well suited for them, based on their genitalia. That’s nonsense.

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          I like to view gender equality this way:

          It was great to empower women to be legal equals to men.

          What happened with “emasculation” was, a generation of men grew up watching their fathers wield executive power simply because they were male.

          When women gained access to equal rights and opportunities, naturally an ambitious class of females began to emerge.

          Some of the men adjusted to this. Others didn’t, and expected any female they married to be the passive, submissive supporter that their mothers were, whether by personality or by social conditioning.

          These are the “emasculated.” Doormats trampled on by the decision-making prowess of their confident wives, unprepared to stand up for their own desires. And this is in every aspect of life, not just cars. Just say yes to the wife, whatever makes her happy–a terrible mindset IMO and exactly what women struggled to be free from.

          These are the ones hopelessly whining about their 7-seater MPVs and someday-dream-cars because once upon a time their wives said, “I’m pregnant! What do you think of the new Sienna? We can trade in your sports car and keep my Camry.” Without negotiating, it was over.

          “It’s fine, I guess. We can go to the dealer on Sunday.”

    • 0 avatar

      False. Parents were divorced when I was five. Mom had an ’83 Civic S, then an ’84 LTD, then an ’85 NIssan 4X4 pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Ah, I misread an earlier story of yours, then. My apologies. But I think I describe a lot of affluent families back in the day.

        (And kudos on your mom having a Civic S…obviously a woman of rare taste!)

        Affluence today, generally, means two working parents (there are still households cut from the old-school “Dad works and Mom takes care of the house” cloth, but that’s been declining for decades now).

        Thus, Imperial Dad has become Imperial Throne-mates Mom and Dad, if you will.

        This explains a lot of what Jack’s talking about, including the need for pampering the kids. If nothing else, mom and dad are so spent chasing a living by the end of the day that it’s easier to set the kids up with DVDs in the van and tech gadgets than it is to interact with them.

        Kind of sad, but true.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Ah. Broken family. Got it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        28-Cars-Later – There are women that prefer to be lead in finance and other things but not all. If that is the case then there does need to be discussions over spending. There never is real “equality” because we all have our strengths and weaknesses. A marriage is no different. The family workload whether that be income or purchases or child rearing is shared but isn’t ever equal. Too many people thing equality means everything is exactly 50/50. Sometimes I carry most of the burden of child rearing and household duties and sometimes she carries more of the load.
        As far as spending on toys and/or vehicles I do agree that too many focus on material possessions and the image they convey. Christmas time is a perfect example of society “awash in material nothingness”. My wife has a tenancy to fall into that trap. I am content with forgoing many material things so as to place my family in a more secure position. I don’t mind sacrifice since I see it as part of my duty as a father and a husband.

    • 0 avatar
      tbone33

      -Without trim package sales figures for the Odyssey, it is tough to say whether people are spending $29k or $46k on their child mover. My uneducated guess is that the cheaper, though not necessarily cheapest models sell better because that tends to be the case with cars. If the same is true with minivans, most children are less imperial than this piece suggests.

      -Minivans are nice for the child, and even nicer for the person that usually carries the child, loads the child into the car, has to clean the car after the child throws Cheerios and spills milk, and would appreciate some G.D. legroom while junior is in a space-devouring rear facing car seat.

      -I deeply believe the gargantuan size of modern car seats and the length of time children are required to be in them play a large part in parents opting for comically oversized cars.

      -It is really tough to classify a child as “imperial” based on a vehicle’s options. Over time technology gets cheaper and family cars will likely have more child distractors. Your parent’s 1980s station wagon didn’t lack a video player because Dad was concerned with your moral fiber and social skills. Rather, as technology progresses there is less need to interact, and hence less development of social skills and empathy.

      -The childless and dad perspectives are well represented here. It would be nice to hear from a mother.

      -The guy that pointed out that modern marriages become excessively kid-centric is correct.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @FreedMike – well said and to a great degree very true. Education and income have probably done more for “equality” than bra burning ever did. Dad having to pull his own weight in a two income family helps further equalize the situation.

      When I was a kid our family car was probably a bit nicer than my dad’s vehicle. He had a small trucking business therefore his personal vehicle was a pickup. A cloth seat was considered luxury in those days.

      In my household my wife’s Sienna is more plain than my F150 but that is more related to Toyota building bland appliances at lower spec trim levels. She drives the Sienna more than I but that has more to do with the fact that spatial awareness isn’t her strong suite. My truck has made 2 trips to the body shop due to “the right side being 4 inches too wide” (as my dad used to say).

  • avatar
    5280thinair

    Didn’t read past the political crap in the first paragraph. Not nearly funny enough to justify its existence in an automotive article.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    All that BS aside, my 4.5y/o daughter doesn’t much care what car she’s riding in, as long as she can use someone’s iPhone, or iPad hooked to a Mifi hotspot. And her being occupied by weird YouTube videos of people opening stupid Shopkins toys means she’s happy and quiet and mom and I can have a few minutes of quiet and conversation.

    Win win all around as far as I’m concerned. No different than when I used to get lost listening to my Sony Walkman back in the 80s in the back of Mom’s Oldsmobile. (’85 Custom Cruier wagon then ’90 Delta 88 sedan).

    • 0 avatar

      Try being a parent sometime. It’s great.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Yes, thanks for your valuable input and insight.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I don’t see how letting your kid do what Chris is talking about makes you a non-parent.

        • 0 avatar

          Would you describe letting an electronic device babysit your child as parenting? Because I wouldn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            You understand there’s a difference between “we’re going to be there in 15 minutes, here’s an electronic device for the next 15 minutes” and “here’s an iPad see you in a week” right?

            Of course you don’t, because this is the internet and everyone is perfect at everything all the time and throws rocks at everyone who isn’t.

            Besides, aren’t you the guy who travels extensively for work and therefore spends lots of time away from home? But hey, at least your kid doesn’t watch an iPhone while you haul him to the grocery store on a Tuesday.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Bark – Not sure how much parenting is necessary on a drive to the grocery store. The kid is exploring funny/silly/stupid videos and getting a kick out of it. It’s not like every moment is Grasshopper time.

            Bad call on this one.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            The only thing worse than making your teen daughter drive a 25-year-old Honda is making your teenaged son drive a 40-year-old Porsche, which is my terrible plan.

            “Dad, I met this older guy who has a vintage 911.”

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @Bark:
            “Would you describe letting an electronic device babysit your child as parenting?”

            I’d describe it as non parenting **IF** it’s done to excess. The question is, how much is excessive?

            That’s something that each parent has to answer for him or herself, I’d say.

            But Mom and Dad telling the kids to go play on the XBox, or with their tablet, for a short time while they do what they need while they run the household, or do something for themselves, isn’t bad parenting in and of itself.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “I’d describe it as non parenting **IF** it’s done to excess. The question is, how much is excessive?”

            Of course, excessive is always defined as “anything more than I do” because otherwise how would I proclaim superiority on the internet over the negligent idiots who do it more than me?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Of course, excessive is always defined as “anything more than I do” because otherwise how would I proclaim superiority on the internet over the negligent idiots who do it more than me?”

            Hole in one.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m just saying. It wouldn’t kill you to have a little more cardio in your life. Maybe get out and play with her on the lawn before you have a heart attack.

            I do travel extensively, which is why I prefer to actually engage when I’m present instead of letting my child watch a mindless video.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I do believe you can “do cardio” with your kids and let them indulge in a little mindless time with a tablet too. It’s not an either-or.

            I don’t see a problem with that as long as it’s not done to excess. If you want the time to be less “mindless,” then let them loose with educational programs, or books.

            I’ve been doing the “parent thing” for over 20 years now, and yeah, it’s important to be there, but it’s also important to be there for yourself. If that means you tell the kids to go off and do their own thing for a little while, then you have permission.

            It took me a LONG time to learn that lesson.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I’m doing the world a favor by not having kids. so thanks for the advice, but no.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Maybe so, maybe not.

          If you intend to raise your kids and do it well, then I’d say the world is well served. Otherwise, it isn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Lots of interesting parenting thoughts here .
          .
          My Son was in Middle School when beepers were the new thing and he wasn’t allowed one even when his rich Friend offered one for free….
          .
          Distracting your Children isn’t a wise thing to do and it will come back to bite your ass .
          .
          I’m a Parent and I’m told I did really well but I think I was a terrible parent because I look back and second guess everything I ever did in spite of him turning out _far_ better than I ever could be .
          .
          Parenting is a double edged sword ~ it has ups and downs and never really ends as I’m learning….
          .
          Teaching your Child to drive in some older vehicle is wise, they’ll understand more and appreciate the better rides they get/buy/acquire as the go through life .
          .
          Children always look for limits ~ the more they’re whining about not having anything the better job you’re doing .(be sure to reward them when they follow your rules !)
          .
          My Son came to visit me on December 31st and surprised me when he said ” I have the coolest Dad ever ~ I used to hate those old weird cars, trucks and Motos you had but now I understand ~ THANK YOU DAD ! ” .
          .
          Wow ~ heady stuff .
          .
          When my Mother bought a crappy house in Newton, Ma. in…1964 (?) from the Church I thought she’d won the Lottery it seemed so nice there .
          .
          In later years she bought a brand new house in Framingham, built on the edge of a swamp after it was poorly back filled . she never was able to utilize the (full) basement because it was even with the water table and so was always damp on the floor .
          .
          I thought that too was RichTown when I visited her there .
          .
          Perspectives vary I guess .
          .
          -Nate
          OBTW: Mercedes has _NEVER_ had ‘ big’ Station Wagons .

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Excellent thoughts, Nate.

            And thus, the Imperial Child.

            Why?

            Because we don’t think we can ever “do enough” for our kids, so we do everything and anything…including constant infotainment for them. Why? Because constant infotainment is very much a 21st century “thing.” Mom and Dad have it, so the kids have to get it too.

            But in car infotainment is nothing new. Back when I was a kid, it was an AM/FM radio with a tape player, and a CB radio, which kept us kids amused. And books. Today, it’s tablets and Iphones. Same principle, different technology. The only difference is the instant-gratification nature of today’s infotainment.

            But since the kids deserve everything, they get that too. The only question is, how much should they get?

            And as Nate says…no matter how parents decide this question, they believe they’re not doing it right anyway. Ah, parenting.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            @ Freed Mike :
            .
            When we moved where I live now my Son was 8 Y.O. and had a bicycle ~ come Summer I booted his butt out the door and told him to not let me catch him hanging ’round the end of the block ~
            .
            He rapidly got over his fear of the Ghetto and went exploring far and wide ~ ‘helicopter’ parents are decidedly bad as they don’t allow the Child to learn and grow .
            .
            My Son, like almost ever one of our Foster boys, is far more competitive and self – assured than I ever was .
            .
            Just because I worried constantly doesn’t mean I spent much time looking over his shoulder .
            .
            Gotta wind ’em up and set ’em free .
            .
            -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        Hahaha. Sorry, wide open shot here.

        Try being a driver sometime. It’s great.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m sure you have many more racing trophies than I do.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            If your racing trophies were earned on short trips to the supermarket with your children in the car then that’s super cool.

          • 0 avatar
            Chan

            Surely I jest. I have no skin in the “Whose parenting is better” game. Rather leave that to the Mommy/Daddy/MommyMommy/DaddyDaddybloggers.

            But while I’m on a roll, another pot shot: I’d rather not use “racing trophies” as a measure of my driving accomplishments on public roads–and with kids in the back!

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            @ Chan ~
            .
            Can we measure it by tickets then ? =8-) .
            .
            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “Can we measure it by tickets then ? =8-) ”

            Tickets mean you weren’t good enough to get away.

            .

            .

            I’M ONLY KIDDING!

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            @Jim ;
            .
            Back in the day we’d say ” you can’t outrun Motorola “.
            .
            It turns out you _can_ if you know your local roads well enough =8-) .
            .
            I was doing just fine up in Linda Vista in my old ’55 VW Beetle full of friends one night in 1976 so they sent out a helicopter and two more cars, caught me dammit .
            .
            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “It turns out you _can_”

            Uh, yeah, a friend told me, or so I’ve heard!

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    One of the biggest problems plaguing America is that when children are introduced into a marriage, the marriage becomes “kid-centered.” The kids control everything, and the husband and wife don’t devote any time to themselves or to each other. This does a lot of damage. The kids think the world revolves around them, and throw temper tantrums when they realize it doesn’t. The parents devote so much time to the kids that they have little to nothing left for their partner, and once the kids are gone, the parents realize they have nothing in common and end up divorced. Or together but bitterly unhappy.

    I see around here, there will be a cartoon of some sort playing in a minivan or SUV AT ALL TIMES when kids are present, even if they’re going 3 miles down the road to Walmart. Kids can’t go more than a few seconds without some sort of entertainment or being catered to or else all hell breaks loose. This is why the average car/truck/van/SUV (no matter how new or old) of parents nowadays probably contains enough garbage and food residue to feed a third world country for at least a day.

    As a child, I rode in my mom’s then-new 1991 Chevrolet Corsica. When I was born, she had an Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, but soon upgraded in late ’91. The Corsica was a top-of-the-line model, and for ’91, it received an upgraded interior with a driver’s side airbag. There was no passenger airbag. I remember riding up front from the time I was out of my infant car seat (much earlier in the early-’90s than now) and we thought nothing of it. If I got bored on a road trip, I had a Game Boy (high tech then)…or a book. If the road trip happened to be at night, I was out of luck. If it was just a jaunt to town to the store, I was expected to do what passengers have done since the horse drawn carriage days – look out the window.

    I remember doing two things to my mom’s car as a child. One, I squished a Skittle in the back seat upholstery. Two, I ran into it with my tricycle and scratched the bumper. Mom was displeased both times, as the car was not more than a few years old at that point. I never threw trash or food around in the car, nor did I have a cacophony of toys/movies/snacks to entertain me every moment of the drive. And somehow, I survived. Odd.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree its a big part of the problem, but the overall issue is very multifaceted.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It is multifaceted. You have to realize that electronic media has an effect on how our brains work and also affects our patience and perseverance.

        As a kid, if I did not know an answer to a question and my parents/teachers didn’t know (or I didn’t like the answer), I had to rummage around the school library or head off to the public library. I had to work to get the information.
        NOW?
        3 seconds of poor spelling later and the answer or a set of answers spit out on your screen.
        Everything is set up to be quick and easy.
        Watching a movie or TV show?
        I had one channel as a kid. I had to wait all week for the “Wonderful World of Disney”.
        NOW?
        I can watch almost any show 24/7 on my TV, tablet or even my phone.

        No wait,no work, no patience, no effort.

        The world has changed and so has the way we interact with it. Unfortunately that teaches children and adults that everything else also works that way.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “The parents devote so much time to the kids that they have little to nothing left for their partner, and once the kids are gone, the parents realize they have nothing in common and end up divorced. Or together but bitterly unhappy.”

      Gee, that couldn’t possibly describe ANY marriage from the ’50’s, ’60’s or ’70’s…

      The pressures on marriages are largely the same as they were in the “good old days.” Raising kids has always been a stone cold b*tch to do. What’s different today is that, generally, there’s not one parent completely devoted to it. Instead, you have two parents who are completely devoted to making a living. They can’t ‘control everything’ because by the end of the day, they’re running on fumes.

      I believe the overindulgence you’re talking about is due to a) more affluence, and b) guilt on the parents’ part about not being overly devoted to said affluence.

      If they can’t be there emotionally, they’ll buy the kid everything possible. And that becomes a “see what a good parent I am” show for the neighbors. That’s nothing new, either.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        We have a marriage that’s strangely old-fashioned given that both of us have no devotion whatsoever to traditional gender roles. I work back-breakingly long hours, she stays home with the two kids. Yet we still somehow never have enough time for either the kids or each other. I really don’t know how parents with two full-time professional jobs of the sort that demand availability from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, like mine, possibly do it.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “One of the biggest problems plaguing America is that when children are introduced into a marriage, the marriage becomes “kid-centered.” The kids control everything, and the husband and wife don’t devote any time to themselves or to each other….
      I see around here, there will be a cartoon of some sort playing in a minivan or SUV AT ALL TIMES when kids are present, even if they’re going 3 miles down the road to Walmart. Kids can’t go more than a few seconds without some sort of entertainment or being catered to or else all hell breaks loose.”

      These sentiments seem at odds with one another. Frankly, my wife and I give our kid TV and iThings because we want to devote time to ourselves or one another. Mommy and Daddy want to talk in the car? Here, watch the cell phone. Mommy and Daddy want to enjoy dinner and sit around with a glass of wine afterwards? Here, let me turn on Paw Patrol in the basement so you can go down and watch. Etc. Turning on a cartoon in a van takes all of 5 seconds, it’s the exact opposite of devoting all of your time to the kid, which would look like NOT turning the cartoon on and trying to talk to the kid the whole time.

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        I can see that. As someone who’s child is soon-to-be-born, I am sure I will understand more then. I am the last to say I know it all, and the first to say I know…nothing. My observations come from closely watching family members and friends with kids, as I do more closely now that I’m about to have one.

        My discussion of devoting all the time to the kids wasn’t really referencing turning on a movie in the van. That was just another observation of mine that seems to have become more of a trend in recent years. I am sure I would’ve loved having that as a kid, although the idea of it would’ve seemed really foreign.

        And it is true that these issues aren’t new. They’ve been around for a long time. The appearance of them has just changed. Instead of a working dad and a stay-at-home mom, we now have both parents working and often times earning less money than their parents did at the same age (factoring in inflation and such). And yes, the guilt about “not being there” because they have to work often turns into “buying a kid’s love” with iThings and such.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        Kid-centered can mean raising the kids to be productive members of society, it doesn’t have to mean the inmates running the institution.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is why I refused to buy any of our (used) minivans with rear entertainment systems, or to equip them accordingly.

    Let’s face it – everybody is imperial today. Who can say no to:

    1. AWD.
    2. Cheese on your burger. (hat tip to Jack’s earlier article)
    3. Sunroofs.
    4. Navigation.
    5. Health care – particularly end-of-life procedures.
    6. 150 cable channels.
    7. $200 monthly cell phone plans for a small family.
    8. Perpetual funding of Social Security with future money.
    9. Doing ‘something’ about the world’s conflict areas and their refugees.
    10. Teachers’ unions.
    11. __-inch TVs (name your preferred size), because “they’re so cheap now”.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I could do without #9 and #10. FWIW.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’m pretty close to saying goodbye to #6.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Go for it.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        @FreedMike,

        Do it. Netflix and Hulu can provide virtually all the entertainment you need. Not only is it cheaper than cable but the experience is superior. You’ll quickly forget what a commercial even looks like and when you watch cable or use a DVR at another house you feel like you’re using some primitive caveman stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          I’m convinced the Netflix/Hulu only crowd A) hates sports and B) only has 1 TV. I’m not interested in jumping through all the hoops it would take to get non-traditional content onto all 5 of my TVs, most of which are wall mounted and it was already a PITA to hide the cable boxes, etc. And I like my live football and NCAA basketball.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            You’ve described me – exactly.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Sling has sports channels.

            The more times my cable (which is actually a TV-over-Internet company, by way of full disclosure) company fornicates my bill, forcing me to call their horrid customer service center to straighten it out, the better cutting the cord begins to look.

            Plus, it’d probably speed up my Internet, which is limited because of the TV service.

            It’s beginning to look appealing.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            I like sports and don’t have cable, relying on Netflix for most of my entertainment.

            $20 over-the-air broadcast antenna gets you a whole lot of sports for free.

            The few things I can’t get over the antenna I just watch from a bar. A fraction of a normal cable bill will pay for a lot of drinks an an Uber home.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The *only* reason I still have cable is because of sports. I could get rid of it entirely without a second thought if there were a reliable source of streaming sports programming that didn’t require you to be a cable subscriber. But of course the cable companies know that and will move heaven and earth to stop such a thing from appearing.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “$20 over-the-air broadcast antenna gets you a whole lot of sports for free.”

            I’m out of market for my alma mater’s basketball team, so I watch it on FS1 frequently. No way to get it OTA.

            And I could maybe go to a bar, but I’ve got a young kid, my time to hang out in bars is limited.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Dropping cable and going to the Netflix/Hulu setup has definitely killed my sports watching. That said, I don’t really miss it. I realized, yesterday, that I only knew the name of one player on WVU’s football team (mostly because people were slagging him all season for not being gracious enough to the fans that were booing him!) I just don’t care about sports anymore and I’m actually very comfortable with that. Now, when I get my daughter to bed, instead of plopping on the couch to watch a football game or soccer match, I’ll go get on my bicycle trainer or read or work on some other little project around the house or plan out bike rides I can do. I don’t get upset when “my teams” lose anymore. It no longer puts a dark cloud over my day because I just care so little about it now.

          • 0 avatar
            Frylock350

            @S2K Chris,

            I’m a Netflix and Hulu only guy. I have more than one TV.

            Here’s how to get new content delivered to any TV you want, buy several Chromecasts or Roku sticks. No wires to hide; no coaxial to run, no power needed, and no hoops. Just plug them into your TV’s HDMI port and USB port and you’re good to go. Hell some new TVs even have them built in. If there’s any advantage using new technology instead of primitive electricity sucking cable boxes its the lack of cord/cables and ease of installation.

            I don’t hate sports I just don’t value them enough to pay all that money for them. Besides I only really watch NHL and NFL games so I get most of them over basic antenna anyhow.

            The money I’m saving by not paying for cable is more than I pay to insure my truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      @SCE to AUX,

      Some of your list is legitimately useful stuff, hardly “imperial”

      1. I have 4×4 on my truck and I’m never buying one without it again. Floor the gas off the line in an RWD truck you get tire spin smoke and nannies kicking in. Put it in 4×4 and you get acceleration with no fuss. I like being able to confidently drive through deep snow, not have to worry about slipping in rain, be able to climb an incline in snow, pull a boat out of an unpaved landing, etc. 4×4 is useful.
      2. I say no to cheese all the time; it is hardly necessary for a good burger (I’ll take pineapple, avocado and bacon).
      3. I like fresh air. I’ll happily pay for any additional air openings the factory makes available. I turn my A/C on only a handful of times a year
      4. I said no to navigation, I get that on my smartphone for free.
      5. Healthcare isn’t a luxury, its on the same level as water and electricity to me.
      6. I said no to cable, got a netflix subscription
      7. I said no to a $200/mo cell phone plan, mine’s about half that price
      8. Don’t really have a choice in this one now do I? Can’t exactly elect to not participate and still somehow get a job
      9. Don’t really have a choice in this one now do I? I’m very isolationist; we should not be meddling in other countries affairs but I don’t get to make the call.
      10. Good and bad.
      11. You sir can go right to hell :). I like my big ass TV. 4K is glorious.

  • avatar
    DougD

    I was missing my Windstar there for a moment, it was the best when we hauled other peoples’ kids:

    – Kid, there’s no door on this side, you have to go to the other side
    – Kid, you have to open the door yourself
    – Kid, you have to close the door yourself

    I think the problem actually starts when people spend big dollars for baby furniture. We got ours for free, then gave it away when we were done.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “I think the problem actually starts when people spend big dollars for baby furniture.”

      Oh man, I had forgotten about that stage and you may be right. A $46K minivan is probably a given if you shelled out for a $700 giant ornamented crib that the baby will leave teeth marks in, plus $300 matching changing table *because it has to match*, plus $200 sheet and comforter set.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        The crib was $1100, thanks very much.

        Other costs were spot on.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Wow, I didn’t know that such a thing even existed.

          What does it do that a $100 Ikea crib does not?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            We bought a used version of a $1000 crib for our first kid ($400, and a fair amount of time reassembling it so that it would be as strong the second time around). Our kid hated the idea of a crib and wouldn’t get near it. I eventually gave it away, and we’re not even bothering with a crib for the second.

            Our changing table was $60 off Craigslist but it’s actually really nice. We got lucky.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            I dunno. Ask my wife, or the fine ladies at Pottery Barn Kids.

            I am guessing that, like anything else from Ikea, a $100 crib will be hot garbage however.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            Maybe I’m not discerning enough.

            I have a few pieces of Ikea furniture around and they seem to hold up well and still function correctly after 5-10 years use.

            Nothing fancy, but they do the job I purchased them for.

            Don’t cribs only get used for a year or two until kids graduate to racecar beds or whatever?

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “Don’t cribs only get used for a year or two until kids graduate to racecar beds or whatever?”

            No, this one converts to a toddler bed and then a full bed.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “What does it do that a $100 Ikea crib does not?”

            Nothing for the child. It relieves parents of an additional $1000 and in return the parents get to keep having ‘nice things’.

            It is built to a higher standard so you can pass it down as an heirloom, but we all know the chances of that.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Edit: Sorry, Chris, the above is not targeted at you but rather someone I know. If your kid keeps that crib/toddler/full bed combo until they move out then that’s pretty cost effective.

        • 0 avatar
          zoomzoomfan

          Makes me feel even better about our $300.00 crib and changing table from my wife’s aunt. Teeth marks and all.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      We bought our baby adult furniture with the intention that they’ll keep it forever. That’s all the furniture they’ll get until they move out and buy their own.

      Also cheaping out on a crib is a bad idea. Don’t spend for ornamentation or frills; spend for construction quality and safety.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “– Kid, you have to close the door yourself”

      That’s a downgrade from the Aerostar. We’d pile in and my buddy’s dad would just accelerate briefly then slam on the brakes to close it.

      The other downgrade is that you can’t get any of the power oversteer that he seemed to enjoy.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Damn, who pissed in your cereal today bro? One of those millennial waif moms you’re always hating on? LOL. This piece is borderline DeLorenzo or DW-esque.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The source of this problem is the notion that we want our children to have a better life than we did.

    The corollary rule is that we deserve a better life than our parents had.

    Both are false values, occasionally dashed by reality. A common manifestation of such reality is student loan debt.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    While I’m pretty sure the 1st 2 paragraphs have more to do with a recent under the counter T enhancement, the rest of the piece ties thoughts together well and entertainingly. Nothing that’s going to change my world views or even my views of the new Odyssey, but still worth thinking about and a fun read.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You laugh but I’m 45 and I’m absolutely going to start juicing when I hit fifty or so. It’s murder keeping up after a young son. Wait until he’s 17 years old, six foot four, as quick-tempered as I was, and I have to stand up to him as a much-injured, crooked-leg 55-year-old. At that point I’ll make Barry Bonds look like a vegan.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        The mental image of you with a Bonds / McGuire cartoonishly large head amuses the heck out of me. Problem with the juice is maybe your kid ends up trying to dampen your quick temper instead of the other way around. Or…. being a smart kid he leverages your insecurities and eggs you on into doing stupid $4it for his amusement.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        I am older than JB and seriously considering trying out the juice (again). The problem is now that doctors are no longer allowed to prescribe it, how do I get it without breaking a lot of laws and how do I know that I am actually getting what I ordered?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Wow. A long post where Jack doesn’t mention that he owns a Porsche, races motorcycles and plays guitar. I’m shocked.
    .
    .

  • avatar

    While Jack’s points stand, many religious Christian and Jewish families, who have more kids than the national average, buy minivans for exactly none of the reasons Jack cites. They have lots of kids to haul around.

    My grandson goes to preschool at a local yeshiva. When I pick him up, the line is filled with Siennas, Odysseys, and Chrysler minivans including the new Pacifica.

    It would be interesting to take some of my neighbors to the NAIAS to compare the new Honda with the relatively new Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep, Sienna and Odyssey…official “Jew Canoes” around here, for sure. I remember being with some friends and discussing minivans, and mentioning that I was considering a Mazda MPV. You’d think I was trying to do a book discussion on “Mein Kampf.”

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Loved the article Jack, really resonated with me.

    I will build off your rant about isolating/placating kids with a screen and call out myself and most other modern-day adults that always seem to find themselves staring at a screen as soon as the opportunity presents itself. A true addiction, many studies done studying endorphin release from receiving a text message or ‘likes’ on social media sites.

    I will say, within my own childhood I transitioned from our first road trips in non air conditioned and tinny Civics, the longest trip being to Daytona Beach from NY in our ’85 Sedan when I was 4-5 years old or so. The ’89 MPV with air conditioning and an immensely more roomy and comfortable interior was truly a revelation. A few years on, our ’98 MPV with leather captain’s chairs and dual A/C was just plain opulent (I was a teenager by this point). I don’t really remember the trip in the back seat of the ’85, but I do remember endless games of Connect-4 with my brother in the ’89 MPV, and some sort of hand held primitive racing game (like a cheap knockoff gameboy with only the one game on it).

    In the not-too distant future I’ll encounter this very issue of how to keep the family sane on the many drives to see family and such. I can see ponying up for something with a leather interior, but holy cow the latest Odyssey just sounds insanely over the top.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “I will build off your rant about isolating/placating kids with a screen and call out myself and most other modern-day adults that always seem to find themselves staring at a screen as soon as the opportunity presents itself.”

      This, so much. It’s hard to tell my two-year-old to lay off the screen when I’m always on my damn iPhone. But he actually doesn’t get much screen time, and doesn’t usually ask for it, so hopefully it’s OK for the moment. He actually does look out the window of the car and point out stuff!

  • avatar
    April S

    Woo Wee, going by the tone of that word salad of an article it sure sounds like someone had their bowl of cornflakes peed into.

    Complaining that cars are less crummy now than they used to be?

    You just can’t please some people.

  • avatar
    binksman

    One thing to point out is that “back in the day” neither I nor any of my five other siblings had to sit in a car seat. Totally different nowadays. Around here the local child services is notified if you get pulled over and a kid isn’t in a proper car seat, on top of the ticket you get.

    How comfortable would you be locked into a five-point safety harness in a barely padded hard plastic seat for a 10-hour trip? Heck, Jack wrote about racing seats like that in his last Track Day Diary, and we force kids to sit in those seats for the first eight years of their life. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many kids aren’t interested in cars as much as previous generations.

    The best improvements in my own young families road trips were when the kids were old enough to face forward and when they could finally just sit in a booster seat. Facing forward meant they were part of the family again, part of conversations, Mom and Dad were faces again rather than a hand reaching back. Both of my kids immediately started watching how we drove and have been riding or driving something since they were two. It is hilarious and sad to watch my three year old ride his electric dirt bike on the same trails the adults ride while his older, Imperial-ly raised cousins crash a pedal car 10 times into the back of their parents Sienna because they don’t understand the concept of steering.

    Audiobooks, toys, colored pencils and paper, books, and an atlas (think GPS but on paper)- these items get our kids through most road trips. I’m not saying we’ve never let them watch a movie on our phone or tablet, but it is a rare occasion.

    • 0 avatar
      jdowmiller

      Child safety is fairly well-researched and documented. See the current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They don’t just make stuff up for laughs.

  • avatar

    I remember riding with my 3 siblings in our family’s car – a 66 Dodge Coronet 500 with a 383 hemi. I and my next younger brother posted one on each side, sister in the middle and my little brother sitting on the rear end of the center console facing backwards. None of us belted in. For whatever reason I “needed” to be by a window so I didn’t get “car sick”. (It was all in my head, I’m sure.) We got through long drives by looking out the window most of the time. Dad would sometimes have on the radio – occasionally to a Top 40 station – but is was mostly road noise and talk that enveloped the interior space. The random picking on each other occurred most certainly, but it was more rare than you might imagine.

    Comparing that to the experience of riding with our older son and his family was remarkably and somewhat close to Jack’s description in the article. A Dodge Grand Caravan with ICE on little video screens with the sound lower than the road noise so one had to “imagine” the dialog – animated; forget that even. What a difference – to which I apply neither a negative nor positive spin – just different.

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    I’m a big fan of yours, JB, but I think your premise is horse exhaust. Everything is remarkably better and more affordable than it was 35 years ago. The VCR hadn’t been invented, your house had drafty single pane windows, reliability meant you might have your car in the shop only once or twice a year. It was a big deal for my parents to buy me a coat when I was a kid, had to last 2-3 years. Now I can buy my kid a warm coat for 25 bucks. I can buy him a really fashionable coat because he’s so freaking special for less than a bill and I have a supercomputer in my hand and I use it to post stupid comments.

    • 0 avatar

      This house was built in 1965 and has insulated double pane windows. 35 years ago you could get insulated, triple pane windows, with uv screeners and filled with argon gas.

      • 0 avatar
        Tandoor

        I’m thinking of the house I grew up in (I didn’t do a lot of research for my stupid comment). In fact, the house my kids started growing up in had single pane glass. I’m spoiling them now with a warm house and their own rooms. Probably so they can be raised by the machines I bought them and they can avoid speaking directly to me.
        Bottom line, the article strikes me as a “kids these days” rant which is literally the oldest meme in existence, mixed in with a little “Millennials amaright?”
        Og, these kids just want to paint on cave walls. What they gonna do when saber-tooth attacks?
        They’re going to grow up, and their kids are going to be smarter than us and they’ll have better toys.

  • avatar

    This was a fantastic read, Jack. Just the right amount of personal cynicism and actual truth to be unsettling!


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