Saturday, January 10, 2009

Re-tooling Car and Driver Magazine

So how did Car and Driver magazine get on my To-Do list this week? They're not even remotely related to the Big Three automakers. They're not even on the take from the Big Three. In fact, some manufacturers have even taken long-term test cars away from these guys after they worshipped them inversely in print. Please read the Disclaimer on the sidebar of this blog if you'd like to learn more about my job responsibilities and purview.

Guys (and Mary Ann Frendo-Pickney) there's no need to quake in your Pilotes. I like your magazine. Car and Driver is the best car magazine out there because it's brimming with the objective and subjective data I'm most interested in, none of your stories ever sound like warmed-over press releases, and when you do screw up, you always find a way to graciously admit you're wrong and tell your fault finders to shove it.

I believe that once, way before the internet made shock language passé and print obsolete, you committed both your professional reputation and a then-expensive fraction-of-a-column-inch to describing a car exhaust as sounding like King Kong farting in a cave. It was neat of you also to fake your 1964 Pontiac GTO road test back in your brash start-up days and then cheerfully admit to it 40 years later. There were those covers featuring Miss No-Over-the-Shoulder-Boulder-Holder and the California Raisin driving the convertible.

Well done, all of it.

Suggestions I require you to implement?

First: News Flash: Csaba Csere, Wikipedia says you've resigned your post at Car and Driver effective January 1, 2009. That's certainly going to change the focus of this edict. 

[Don't you hate it when bloggers and forum posters, et al. feel compelled to tell you about their thought-editing processes as they're writing -- even going so far as to say things like, "Hey, wait a minute, there's the doorbell" -- instead of just editing the damned post? Me too. Anyway, I'm just starting to connect Mr. Csere's resignation with some of the odd behavior I've seen at Car and Driver magazine recently -- behavior which I comment on later in this post. More on that later in this post, and later, in another post at another time, I'm going to lay out the case that the internet and Google have combined to give Attention Deficit Disorder a worldwide platform. I'm going to go eat dinner now.

OK, I'm back. Clams are just as good baked as fried, and they're better for you].

In any case, Mr. Csere, you're going to have to change your name to something that's easier to pronounce, no matter where you end up after your departure from Car and Driver. As I recall, your name is supposed to sound like "Chubby Checker" or something, but I just can't keep it straight when I'm trying to pronounce it in my head. I know it's probably worked for you -- the name being kind of like a verbal lazy eye that so-distracts everyone around you that they're willing to agree to anything you say just to be out of the awkward encounter. Henceforth, I'll call you by the Native American name I've just made up for you, "Ferraris Put Me to Sleep."

Second: You guys at C/D continue to do the best and most insightful road tests, but your new-and-improved test data panels are a mess --a worse convoluted information conveyance cock-up than the Germans trying to implement in-car navigation. Nowadays it takes me forever to find out whether my 1998 Buick Regal GS is still the king of the 30-50 mph top-gear kickdown sprints.

I can't decide whether the whole multi-colored compartmentalized barf festival is the fault of some corporately-mandated focus group or some sick kind of nepotism where the inept brother-in-law with the failing graphic arts studio is given free reign.
Please fix it.

John Phillips: hang on to this guy no matter what. He's a literary genius, and you're lucky he likes cars. But please see about getting him to commit to a long-term domestic relationship. I'm tired of seeing valuable print space which might otherwise be used for King-Kong-Farting-in-a-Cave lines taken up by his gratuitous references to having a girlfriend, or worse, those cheesy story photo montages where some homely staff intern is positioned as his jailbait love interest.

Also, C/D, please no more track lapping tests where interior finish, air conditioning strength, or trunk space are considered in determining the relative rank of the participant sports cars. In the punk prime days of your magazine you sneered at other magazines that practiced such weenieism. In case you've forgotten who you are, you're the magazine that sneers at car weenieism.

Be certain that Scott Pruett does not comment on the sheen of the door panel plastic or road surface thrum from the tires when he returns from hot-lapping a GT1 car.

Please do feel free to evaluate the foo foo when your cover says "Best Everyday Sports Car." Feel free also to mix minivans into those tests. I'm pretty sure a Honda Odyssey would be within a few seconds-per-lap of a Lotus Elise, based on your last "track" test.

Lastly, C/D, I can't help but notice you recently had some kind of acrimonious split with your longtime chief technical editor.

[Whoa ... there's the doorbell. This probably ties in with your executive editor, Ferraris Put Me to Sleep, resigning. I'll bet it's a great big corporate mess, and some gutless Hachette Fillipacchi weasel who was still wetting his pants during the Goes Like Hell Dodge Omni days is behind it all. Give me the names of the guilty parties and I'm on it].

Anyway, I recall you dismissing the long-bloviating I've-got-a-dude-ranch-and-roll-with-the-stars Mr. Yates from your masthead with one blunt editorial mention some time ago, but you haven't let up on catty references to your un-dear-departed chief technical editor for months on end now.

Beyond the snide comments, you won't mention the guy's name, and it's all starting to whiff of some more-than-professional intra-office relationship gone bad.

I'm not going to permit this no-name print-carping campaign to fester in the collective public consciousness another moment, so will provide an immediate 41.6-percent federal name bailout, loan recipient to pay the balance with in a reasonable period as determined reasonable, herewith:

Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry. Larry.

OK. All better now.

Good luck and Godspeed, C/D, with this latest chapter in your storied history. Since things are no doubt topsy-turvy with the top of your masthead lopped off at your new non-Hogback Road location (more sacrilege), you can't possibly have time to read entire web blogs, so here, in summary are your Priority Car Czar Marching Orders:

Ditch the Easter Egg Road Test Panels and keep John Phillips (and Mary Ann Frendo-Pickney, too).

I'm not done yet. Next week: President-elect Obama's New Limousine

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