From The Desk Of The Jesus Lizard: New Cars

In the early ’90s, the Jesus Lizard—vocalist David Yow, guitarist Duane Denison, David Wm. Sims and drummer Mac McNeilly—was untouchable. Not literally, of course—if you were at one of its hundreds of shows in that era, you could very easily touch ’em. And given the amount of time Yow spent slithering on top of the audience, you probably didn’t have a choice in the matter. Denison and McNeilly will be guest editing. Read our new MAGNET Classics feature on the band’s Liar album, one of the most important LPs of the ’90s.

CarsDenison: I like new cars. Not all of them, but a fair number of them. Econo, luxury, foreign, domestic, whatever. I like the trends in engineering and design that have evolved over the last decade or so. Today’s cars are lighter, faster, more fuel efficient and less toxic to the environment than ever before. They’re also safer, more comfortable, and more reliable than the previous generations of motor vehicles. They’re a bit more complicated now, but, hey, that’s what mechanics are for, right? Don’t get me wrong. I love classic and vintage cars as well. I grew up in Michigan in the ’60s and ’70s—the golden age of Motor City muscle. My friends and I spent hours drawing pictures of cars, reading car mags, going to car shows, even building real cars in the factories (or making parts for them, as I did at Stahl Manufacturing for part of a year). The first word I ever spelled all by myself was “Ford,” where my grandpa worked. And I’ll never forget the day when, in the middle of summer, my dad came home with a grocery bag full of model car kits. They were a gift to him of some sort, back in the days when salesmen and their clients routinely sent each other booze, cigars, neckties and the like. My brother and I were in heaven for days. But the problem with the vintage rods is that, just like vintage musical equipment, the repairs and maintenance are costly and time consuming. Unless you’ve got a bottomless credit card (or have hands-on skills that take time to acquire), it’s just not practical. As far as every day, low maintenance reliability, the newbies beat the old gas-guzzling heavyweights in all categories. Fins and chrome are nice, and I love tooling around in an oldie and getting the thumbs up from folks as you pass them by (or as they pass you by, more likely). But speaking as someone who can only have one car at a time, I’m not gonna blow my hard-earned cash on something that was designed before we put people on the moon. I think most gearheads secretly feel this way, too. There’s tons of car shows on TV now, most of which deal with guys who take old beaters and rebuild them, usually within a brief span of time. They’ll keep the bodies and frames “old school” but almost always trick out the engines and electronics with modern appointments. Then they take them to car shows and auction them off for big bucks, which to me shows that most people out there don’t mind being up to date with their rides.