Wild Ass Rumor of the Day: Manhattan's Bermuda Triangle

Stephan Wilkinson
by Stephan Wilkinson
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wild ass rumor of the day manhattan s bermuda triangle

My pal Brock Yates single-handedly introduced CB radios to non-truckers by using one in a big Mercedes 300S for a precedent-setting Car and Driver article. So I installed a CB in my Saab 99. Whenever I’d put my ears on and key the mike to good-buddy, the Swede’s unshielded electronic fuel injection would die. (Good thing the ugly little hatchback could coast.) Today, something similar is supposedly happening in Manhattan. Rumors abound of an electronic Bermuda Triangle surrounding the Empire State Building. According to that bastion of reportorial excellence, The New York Daily News, "something" keeps certain vehicles' engines from re-starting. Wild-ass theories range from electronic emissions from the huge antennas atop the skyscrapers, to the increasing profusion of cell phone jammers, to juju from anti-terrorist devices protecting the building from attack. My favorite from one blog commenter: “Megaliths [such as a skyscraper] are electrical coils. Imagine a coil so powerful it can suck the magnetic force out of a car’s power system.” (You’re right: Manhattanites don’t know how a car works.) The hysterics point out that 10 to 15 cars a day die near the Empire State Building. Considering the fact that 10 to 15 cars a day probably die near the Fulton Fish Market, once again, Occam's razor slices a crazy ass conspiracy theory to pieces.

Stephan Wilkinson
Stephan Wilkinson

I'm the automotive editor of Conde Nast Traveler and a freelancer for a variety of other magazines as well. Go to amazon.com and read more about me than you ever wanted to know if you do a search for either of my current books, "The Gold-Plated Porsche" and "Man and Machine." Been a pilot since 1967 (single- and multi-engine land, single-engine sea, glider, instrument, Cessna Citation 500 type rating all on a commercial license) and I use the gold-plated Porsche, a much-modified and -lightened '83 911SC, as a track car.

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4 of 16 comments
  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on Feb 10, 2008
    RF can be very tricky you can’t properly shield these things against inadvertent RF interference or damage Don't talk about Mr Farago like that! He's quite a nice chap! ;O)
  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Feb 10, 2008

    I should explain that I'd included in my original copy that the interference was almost certainly related to keyless keys, which I loathe with a passion (if that isn't too redundant), and that the owners of such idiotic devices were just getting what they deserved. But it was dropped in order to make the post more concise. (Yeah, I know, sometimes you don't have a choice; even my own Volvo V50 has a stupidkey.) But the basic point is that with a zillion cars passing through every part of Manhattan every 24 hours and a dozen dying here, there and everywhere during such a time period, you could say that the problem was the Empire State Building...or the newsstand at One Park Avenue...or emanations from Grand Central Station...or from Donald Trump's bedroom... You choose. A number of hysterical New Yorkers have chosen to believe it's the Empire State Building. The New Yorker magazine, just for the fun of it, tried a fairly basic investigation of the phenomenon and took an RF meter to the ESB area. (They referred to it as "a remote-control-type thing with a digital readout," so it's a cinch we're not dealing with Popular Science nerds here.) They walked the meter through the area, and their astute digital-readout conclusions were: high on Park Avenue near the ESB, very high at the Polish Consulate just two blocks from the ESB, low-to-normal outside the shop Empire Erotica well within the Bermuda Triangle, and zero on the ground floor of the ESB itself. At which point security personnel confiscated the meter and the New Yorker writer fled.

  • Allegro con moto-car Allegro con moto-car on Feb 10, 2008

    "Weird" car things happen every day with no explanation to car owners. This does not mean that there is paranormal stuff brewing, but I can understand why publications want to report it that way. It sells publications. I remember something "weird" happened to me once when I owned a 1980 Mitsu Cordia (L model) around the early 1990's. I turned the key and nothing happened. I put the key first in the "run" postion and then the "ACC" postiion and then tried the radio, wipers, interior lights, exterior lights, nothing. I looked at the battery connections and noticed that everything was good and tight with no corrosion. I gently tugged on everything near the battery connections to make sure everything was ok. I got back in the car and everything was fine, plenty of cold cranking amps, started right up. I did not make any adjustments on the battery connections after this incident, and this never ever happened again. Paranormal or just plain weird? I vote for weird. To this day I still think about that incident and what may have caused it. But I remain baffled. It was as if the main wiring harness fusible link at the battery cable itself (yes, there is such a thing, I believe all cars have this) first became open circuit and then became closed circuit. Whatever the problem was, it was fixed by the slamming of the hood back down.

  • Allegro con moto-car Allegro con moto-car on Feb 11, 2008

    One last thing about my "CordiaL" incident. The only explanation that I have surmised is that this may have been God's way of "delaying" me to keep me from having a terrible accident.