By on January 17, 2018

I left Detroit at 4:51AM on Tuesday morning, pointed south for a three-hour drive that would terminate with the beginning of my workday. I could have taken the morning off, but I like to surround my auto shows with a little bit of deliberate misery, lest I inadvertently become too comfortable in the entirely artificial universe of public relations and journalist-pampering that seems to gain steam every year even as the rest of the event comes to resemble the petal-dropping Enchanted Rose in the spare wing of the Beast’s castle. Thus the  4 AM wakeup and the trudge out to the frozen parking lot, hunchbacked with suit bags and audibly creaking from every joint, Danger Girl trailing behind me with the wide-eyed stare common to prisoners of war and victims of spousal abuse, even if it’s mostly musical in nature.

We were not the only people starting our morning, and our truck, before dawn. Long-time TTAC readers may remember that General Motors and a few other automakers pay the travel expenses of quite a few autojournos in exchange for obtaining control of their narratives. Most of them arrive a few days before the actual show, all the better to maximize the free meals and curated experiences. On Saturday, while my son and I were driving up to a skatepark in Cleveland for an evening’s worth of BMX riding, I’d seen a former colleague of mine whining on Instagram about the less-than-five-star nature of his complimentary accommodations at the GM Renaissance Marriott. The only way I could think of to register my disappointment was to change my own hotel reservation to the absolute cheapest room available on Hotels.com: $47 a night for the Allen Park Motor Lodge.

The motel, and the room, turned out to be kinda-sorta okay, although the bed didn’t really make the grade for two people with a hardware store’s worth of screws and bolts in their bones. Here’s the interesting part: I’d expected that most of my fellow motel-dwellers would be engaged in some form of recreational depravity, but in actuality the bulk of them were construction and service-industry workers taking advantage of the weekly rates. They were early to bed and early to rise. Our work-truck white Silverado, parked in a line of pickups that stretched all the way across the motel’s road frontage, was notable only for being slightly newer than the rest. As we backed out of our spot, I saw a few Carhartt-clad fellows trudging out to the Colorados and F-150s and Rams, tool belts slung over their shoulders, rubbing their eyes and exhaling cloudy yawns of crystallized steam towards the moon.

Back to life, back to reality. But there was a bit of irony in it for me, because this Detroit show was the first one in a long time to acknowledge the connection between the polished artifice of the press-event turntable and the early-morning trudge to one’s truck.

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By on June 6, 2017

What The Truck?

And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
The worst that I can find
And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
But I rely on mine

“Can’t Be Sure” was The Sundays’ brilliant 1989 debut, introducing all of us to the lovely Harriet Wheeler and her ability to sing the most heartbreaking lyrics possible in the voice of a spoiled British child. I took the above stanza to heart the minute I heard it, because it took something that had long animated me and put it into a few simple words. It’s no wonder that the Zen philosophers preach a detachment from desire, because it drives our worst and most selfish behaviors. Virtually every regrettable or repugnant episode in my life has begun with me looking at something (or, more often, someone) and pronouncing, like Henderson The Rain King, “I WANT!”

Yes, desire is a terrible thing — but I rely on mine, as I’ve recently been reminded. You see, I need a full-size pickup. But need is in no way synonymous with desire, so I’m absolutely stuck in the mud trying to figure out what I should do next.

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