Let’s play word association for a moment. Imagine the images that these wonderful names bring to mind: Sequoia, Yukon, Sedona, Tacoma, Sienna, Silverado, Denali, Tundra, Sorento, Tahoe, Durango. Aren’t these emotive words wonderful? They make you think of majestic trees, national parks, mountains, fragile eco-systems or relaxing holiday destinations in out-of-the-way places.
Sadly they are none of the above. They are all the names of large trucks, SUVs and people-carriers that sit on our freeways gurgling gas. It was once pointed out to me that new housing developments are always named after the very things that were destroyed to create them: Happy Valley, Vista Del Mar, Pleasant Meadows etc. Well now we have the automotive equivalent.
As if this weren’t enough the adventurous alpha-male in all of us is seduced by all the activities we’ll never partake in on our daily commute: Trailblazer, Forester, Expedition, Range Rover, Freelander, Explorer, Pathfinder, Discovery; and the place we’ll never reach: Frontier. And in a last ditch effort to really make that trip to the mall seem extraordinary we belive that we might be a Pilot or a Navigator on an Odyssey and consequently Escape and find Liberty.
Enough already. My 10 year-old original-style Cherokee (indiginous tribe virtually anihilated by rampaging white folk) is dwarfed every-time I pull up beside an Escalade – a vehicle which is usually tricked out with spinning shiny rims, a gold plated roo-bar (odd: kangaroos are not usually found in LA) and rattling with its powerful bass-tweaked sound-system that would definitely intimidate an angry rhino were it to come across one at the junction of Sunset and La Cienega. But at least the Escalade does not hide its shame under a soft mantle of faux tree-hugging. My Webster’s dictionary describes ‘escalade’ as the act of scaling the walls of a fortified place with ladders.
Hum. Take a look at that monstrous, guzzling heap of steel and plastic and shiny crap that will look just dreadful in about five years: do you really think an Escalade would even make a dent in a fort? No chance.
Very likely my next car is going to be something that at least says what it is: Mini. Can you make sure that comes in a bright red with a hybrid engine please? And, seeing as I’ll be leaning on the horn a lot and racing at the lights and generally being impatient in it, feel free to call my model the Dick.