Road trip

In which libertarians descend upon Brown U., Cato interns pass through NYC, and the Pontiac Aztek takes a few more knocks…

This weekend the IHS hosted a weekend seminar at Brown University, bastion of left-wingism in the Ivy League. How would these modern liberals take to the classical liberals of IHS? Friday morning three fellow interns and I decided to skip work to find out, piling into the trusty Aztek (more on that later) for the drive up to Providence, RI.

The conference was great, with a surprising turnout of about 300 students. The Brown students were pretty receptive to the lectures, too, which ranged from globalization to sexuality. Highlights for me included Randy Barnett’s talk on the medical marijuana cases he is arguing in California and Wendy McElroy’s discussion of ifeminism versus gender feminism. (Highly recommended: Barnett’s The Structure of Liberty).

After a tasty closing dinner for IHS alums at Providence’s Kabob and Curry restaurant, it was time for the long, late-night drive back to DC. On the way we drove straight through Manhattan, a first for me. I had no idea just how amazingly big this city is until last night; driving through Times Square in bumper-to-bumper traffic at 1 am was incredible, too. (We probably didn’t look all that cosmopolitan with our heads hanging out the windows of a Pontiac Aztek with Texas plates, but whatcha gonna do?).

The only time we actually left the car was to see the scar where the World Trade Center used to be. This was a stirring site, and I wish I’d seen the Towers in person so as to have a better appreciation for how impressive they must have been.

The trip finally ended around 7 am this morning, when I’d finally dropped everyone off at their homes and made it back to the apartment. We all had a good time. Except, of course, for the Aztek, who was abused terribly throughout the trip.

It all began as we quickly loaded the car outside of Cato. I guess she didn’t get a good look at the vehicle during this process, but one of my fellow travelers was very complimentary of the styling. This attitude would not last, however…

As we drove we occasionally commented on various cars we passed on the highway. Most were getting good marks, until my friend pointed out an SUV ahead of us that she thought was terribly ugly. You guessed it, it was an Aztek. Same year, same color as mine. I said, “That one? But that’s the same car you’re in right now!” She couldn’t believe it; how could her first impression have been so horribly wrong?

Insult was added to injury as we settled in at the hotel and turned on “The Tonight Show.” The guest was Rosie O’Donnell, and somehow her conversation with Jay Leno turned to her embarrassing selection of an automobile. Jay pressed her to reveal what it was; Rosie resisted. As he pressed further, a feeling of dread came over me. I just knew that she must have an Aztek. Bulky, lots of storage capacity, unattractive rear end – car and driver suggested an all-too-perfect resemblance.

Sure enough, she had bought an Aztek. She said so on the air, the audience laughed at her, and the interns laughed at me. It was a sad moment.

So everybody picks on the Aztek, and it looks like it will soon become one of those famous auto flops that people look back upon and say, “What were they thinking?” It appears Pontiac is discontinuing the model. That’s fine with me, since it just means I’ll be one of the few to own one. I still stand by me theory that ugly = innovation. All things considered, it’s a great vehicle for a road trip.

In fact, I think it looks pretty good, unless you’re looking at it from the rear. Or the side. Or any angle besides dead on to the front. It might even impress a date if she could be distracted until she’s actually inside.

Finally, one more link for the detractors: the Ultimate Aztek. It’ll leave you speechless.


7 thoughts on “Road trip”

  1. The Queso Crusader fears nothing! (Except, perhaps, the destruction of America’s tortilla chip supply). My lab (a.k.a. the Cantina of Solitude) is scanning your letter for hidden messages and preparing it for online publication. Shouldn’t a supervillain such as yourself exhibit more patience for his schemes to come to fruition, Taco Boy?

  2. Wow, 4 young libertarians venturing to Brown, a school with the most undergraduate members of the Young Communist League….craziness. What’s even crazier is driving thru the City (NYC) on the way back to DC. Even New Yorkers won’t drive through Manhattan unless they have to. heh

  3. Yeah, I agree. Driving through Times Square at 1 am is one of those experiences that’s worth having, but only worth having once. Next time I’ll leave it to a cab, subway, or my own two feet.

  4. Confession from the fellow traveler with the alleged wrong impression about the Aztec

    The word goes I have had a horribly wrong impression about the Aztec. Indeed, after my double encounter with the Aztec, I can take an oath and solemnly declare with clear conscience that now there will be at least one car in the street that I will be able to identify straight away.

    What was my first impression?
    Greatly impressed with the car interior. Never thought a guy’s car, even Jacob’s, could be so devoid of dust and paper and bottles on the floor. Plus a nice, wavy side line. Not to mention my later discoveries: Corrs and English-Italian musicals, and a driver with seven lives.

    So what went wrong on the road?
    My eyes inflated when, in a slow-motion parade of sleek, elegant cars, a brutally straight car rear end wrecked the untroubled splendor, like a splash of water on a Van Gogh painting. “Now, that is a car I certainly don’t like,” I uttered while still in a shock. “That one? But that’s the same car you’re in right now,” Jacob quickly dispelled my curiosity of which car such a monstrous rear end could belong to. My heart deflated.

    Yes, the Aztec may not be the right car for you if you plan to stand behind it and contemplate its rear end. But then there is Jacob’s Aztec, and I bet on ten Van Gogh paintings that no jury will be able to reach an unanimous decision on that.

  5. If Jacob’s car was actually that clean, then miracles can happen — Al Sharpton will get the Democratic nomination, Chuck Schumer will turn down a television interview, General Wesley Clark will indeed invent time travel, and SNL will actually be funny again!

    I won’t tell Mom about the car. I don’t think her heart could take it!


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