I've known my girlfriend for years. We met as teenagers and immediately connected. We kept in touch sporadically, went through a lot of parallel experiences and a multitude of different ones. Way back when, she thought I was a goofy punk rocker with bad taste in motor vehicles, but she wrote about my cars and I anyway. We danced around each other, intrinsically knowing that the other one had things to do. And since I'm seeing her tomorrow, and I figure that she needs more punk rock in her life at this juncture, I've made her a compact disc in place of the mixtape I was too shy to to give her over a decade ago. There's a freedom in letting go of seductive romance and saying, "Okay, the plays are over and here's where the collaboration begins." Not that I'm not a sucker for participating in seductive romance. After all, I did own an El Camino.
The only thing that truly kicks me in the ass like a kickass woman (which I have) or a kickass car (which I don't currently have) is an absolutely kickass song. And one song that made the playlist is Avail's cover of Mellencamp's '80s chestnut "Pink Houses," which, much like Springsteen's "Glory Days," is an incredible slice of American life undone by overproduction. It's a song I remember listening to as a kid and enjoying although it never rocked me. But in the hands of Tim Barry and Co., it comes out note-perfect. Smacking, thwacking drums, barely-controlled, killer guitar work, and Barry's rail-riding, whiskey-gargling, three-point-stance bear-hug of a rough and warm growl.
It may be to '90s punk covers what Hüsker Dü's "Eight Miles High" was to '80s versions of urgently-written songs originally performed too quietly. And more to the point of this story, it gives me the same yummy chills that my relationship with my girlfriend gives me. It's a continual piece of my past recontextualized, yet still classic.
Which finally gets me to the point of this essay. I interrupted the Loverman in the midst of a game of online poker this evening to ask him which longish-form spot, between the fantastic Ferrari/Shell spot and Honda's incredible "The Impossible Dream" piece (the making of which is show above) was the better advertisment. He called Ferrari/Shell hands down and proceeded to bust out — set of Jacks cracked by a runner, runner flush. Quoth the Loverman, "Dicks!" And we were about to start referring to him as "The Lovermaker."
He also suggested we add the Ferry Porsche two-minute commercial we ran a few days ago to a poll. All three ads tug at one's heartstrings. They are all masterpieces of promotional history illustrations. Watch 'em all. Six minutes of your life, and no matter what your taste, we can positively guarantee it won't be time wasted. We then request you vote for which one you'd most want to marry over a decade after the fact.
Pros: Racing Ferraris out the freaking wazoo — which makes "bad thing" an impossible phrase to use unless you're a complete and utter know-nothing asshole. Amazing freaking camera work. Exotic locales. A cute kicker. Almost makes you believe that Shell gasoline could turn a Dodge V8 into an Italian V12.
Cons: Oil companies are manipulative, evil monstrosities. It focuses on F1 cars to the exclusion of Ferrari's incredible sports-racer and road cars. It makes you realize how rad racecars were before they took the lead out of gasoline.
Pros: One of the most lucid, concise explanations of the philosophy of Bruce ever set to tape. Ferry Porsche. Rallying 959s. Sliding 928s. Not being afraid to show their racing cars falling apart.
Cons: Cars falling apart. Ferry's dead. The fact that they don't run a Cayenne in the Dakar Rally. That the GT3 RS hadn't been invented yet.
The Power of Dreams
Pros: Brilliant song selection. Note-perfect actor and wardrobe selection. Illustrates the company's progression via both competition and road vehicles. The soundtrack syncs wonderfully with the engine notes selected. Builds to a crescendo, hits a tense, freaky pause and then drops "Holy crap! Hot air balloon!" on you like an Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe locomotive.
Cons: The boat goes over a cliff. Some people don't like Andy Williams or Miguel de Cervantes. Hondas don't have the cachet of a Ferrari or a Porsche.
So there it is. Which one does it for you? Which one, if you owned one of the cars in question, would make you feel you'd finally scored the woman you'd wanted since you were a teenager; make your thighs tingle like rabbit-ear static made flesh? Which one is a great song perfectly recontextualized for now people? And how soon are now people anyway? Which one will make you give up vacationing on the Gulf of Mexico for a shot at making California?
"Fast as a Shark" is a weekly electronic broadside aimed at what has been historically right and terribly wrong with the autmotive industry and culture. And no, we don't know of any bootleg U.D.O. John Cougar covers. Thanks for asking.
Fast As a Shark: The Problem With Words [Internal]