Give me a long kiss goodnight
And everything’ll be alright
Tell me that I won’t feel a thing
So get me Novacaine.
— “Get Me Novacaine”, American Idiot, Green Day (2004)
(Because Billy Joe Armstrong’s ’62 Nova was stolen in L.A. last week, and Billy Joe is turning AARP candidate member on Thursday.)
It was a Tuesday with a creamy pastel blue sky studded with dirty cotton smears of cloud. I spotted the sixty year old across a bus-rapid transit lane, behind a copse of trees, at rest with aged patience.
Scharfe-rechts from Woodhaven Boulevard, the Boulevard of the Little Death (because Queens Boulevard is the Boulevard of Death) and I was parked too many car lengths away from the subject to take a size comparison shot with my Outback. But the cars are spiritually related, because they are both compact station wagons of pure utility. Just about the same length and width – 187 inches bumper to bumper and 70 inches wide, although my Outback outweighs the Chevy II wagon by five hundred pounds, 3600lbs to 3100lbs. But the Chevy has more cylinders and more displacement in its 194 cu. in. inline OHV 6 cylinder engine than my Subaru 2.5L boxer four!
Sixty years to the day earlier, the day the KGB caught Oleg Penkovsky passing information on the R-12 and R-14 missiles that Castro would invite to Cuba the next year, my analog contemporary, a forty-six year old World War Two veteran with a growing family and a tight-fist on his wallet, could buy a Chevy II 300 wagon at a suggested manufacturer’s retail price of $2497 – almost $24000 in 2022 gelt.
What did you get for twenty-four grand? Chrome!
A dashboard visible every day of ownership.
Thirteen inch wheels!
And the badging! Everywhere. A Chevrolet!
And the punim!
I remember crank windows, but how did they work on the tailgate?
But the cargo area looks tasty and enormous.
I saw no seatbelts. It isn’t an Ernie Kovacs Lakewood special (Ernie’s sixtieth Jahrzeit is, well, the Sunday before the Thursday the KGB caught Penkovsky), but I don’t suppose one’s chances in a medium speed collision are great.
(Selfridge Street and 63rd Avenue, Rego Park, Queens, New York City, January 18, 2022.)