Archive for category: Featured
My story begins at a different time of year and in a place much less cozy than Hilversum. A gentle night in July is replaced with a snowy March morning and a postcard Dutch town is replaced with a freezing Siberian city of Omsk, where Stalin used to send German POWs during WWII. It was Sunday, March 5, 1995, it was –25o C outside, and I was 7 years old. It was in that cold Siberian city on that very day when my fascination with cars began.
Back then, I lived in a very different world. It had been just 3 years since the Soviet Union had collapsed. The Iron Curtain fell almost immediately, and a sea of Western imports flooded the country. Among these, one particular import stood out for 7-year olds like me. Like millions of other Russian children, I would get up every Sunday at 9 AM — which was quite a feat considering we had a 6-day school week — to sit in front of a recently acquired Western-made TV to watch Western cartoons. As fate would have it, on that day my weekly fix of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe happened to be followed by a car show. I never knew its name, but this was a car show that would change everything.
by Peter Dushenski @carenvy
After a dreamy night of Unibroue-induced sleep, I was up at 8:00am. Careful not to wake my parents, my brother, his girlfriend, and my hosting Gran’pa, I tiptoed across the creaky wooden floor booby trapped with slippery Persian rugs and deftly made my way towards the kitchen. I found a banana and a poppy seed muffin before settling into the living room sofa to get my bearings and slowly wake up. The late summer sun filtered in through the stained glass windows as I meditated for a moment on the following passage from Alan Watts’ 1957 masterpiece, The Art of Zen:
If we had to decide to decide, we would not be free to decide. We are free to decide because decision “happens”.
Decidedly, I took the keys to the dark gray 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 waiting on the grass out front. I creaked down the wooden stairs and slipped on my Porsche Design Adidas lace-ups before gently closing the door behind me. Only the occasional V-Twin passing by the Round House broke the steady chime of birds and rustling leaves. Pictured above, the multi-story masterpiece that is the Round House was hand-built 40 years ago by my mother’s family and is located 150km southeast of Montreal in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
With keyless entry, the car was unlocked when I reached for the handle. I settled into the manly red chair, ca-thunked the parking brake release, and prodded the 6.4L (392 cubic inches, thus the name) into a weighty hum. I pulled down the driveway, past the swimming pool on my left, and turned right onto Route 243 in search of I knew not what, but possibly a cappuccino.+Continue Reading
by Peter Dushenski @carenvy
Driving up to the cylindrical two-story Experience Center north of Tel Aviv, bordering a lifeless ocean of unsold French cars, we parked our Mazda5 next to a pair of electronic Renault Fluence ZEs. At a normal car dealership, we would’ve waltzed in unannounced only to be molested by a pimply salesman with an ill-fitting suit. Since this was the “Experience Center”, however, the Better Place website encouraged us to book a tour in advance despite not having any clue as to what such a tour might entail.
We were penciled in for 3:00pm that Friday but Israel’s road network had other ideas. We got so dazzlingly lost trying to find the damned place that we started to wonder if the Byzantines called really complex crap “Judean”. As such, we were a solid 45 minutes late. As we tardily strode into the airy building, we were found the reception desk, explained the situation, and were promptly signed up for a private tour at 4:00pm. With a few minutes to kill, we acquainted ourselves with the spotty (but delicious) cappuccino machine. Before we knew it, we had individualized name tags and the fun was set to begin!+Continue Reading
By Peter Dushenski @carenvy
In the birthplace of monotheism – where the scriptures that formed the foundations of western culture tell of divine intervention and retribution – lays a truly heavenly assortment of desert flowers and blushing greenery, beautifying the once-lifeless landscape.
On our recent family trip to Israel, the vibrant flora was an ever-present reminder of the power of human will. Although Israel finds itself atop a Mediterranean desert, it’s lush and unexpectedly well shaded. It was only when we returned home to the bursting Canadian spring and the dense layers of Edmonton’s river valley succession that Israel’s precisely placed plantings looked so retrospectively sparse. Israel might have tall trees and dazzling flowers, but the majority of the country’s lawns seemed confined to the steep-as-a-double-black-diamond Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. That the country’s vegetation felt as natural as it at the time did speaks to the the desire of the Jewish people to bring as much of Old Europe to their new home as possible.
Had you visited Israel without visiting the tree-lined cities, and never seen the Bedouin-dotted patches of crusty rock that nestled between lemon and olive plantations, you’d never notice the unforgiving wasteland that lies beneath the Jewish civility. In the cities, thick, vine-covered trees shade popular streets, like Tel Aviv’s boutique-lined Dizengoff where my fiancée found her wedding dress. Between every building palm trees hide, boxed in though they are by graffiti and wrought iron window bars. If the past six decades had accomplished no more than vegetative abundance in the middle of the desert, dayenu. But there’s so much more.
There’s Israel’s automotive future. And perhaps ours as well.+Continue Reading
Please join me in welcoming CarEnvy’s new Contributing Editor, David Little.
by David Little @dlittle21
My shoes sank into the soggy grass as I shifted my weight impatiently. An easterly wind pulled low, heavy clouds passed my peripheral gaze. But we wanted to go west.
Isabella (a Danish friend with whom I was visiting) and I were planted by the side of the highway exiting Copenhagen. To save some kroner and have an adventure, she suggested that we hitchhike the 303 km to Aarhus. I was skeptical. Back home, hitchhiking is seen as a very reckless undertaking. We Canadians will avert our eyes from the dusty, motherless roadside stranger as we drive on by, thankful for a distraction so that he can promptly be forgotten. In Denmark it’s different. Trying to dispel my incredulity, Isabella, along with her mother’s corroboration, assured me that autostoping is very common and often encouraged. Indeed, even drowsy children will extend a thumb if they happened to have missed the bus to morning classes!
So there we stood, taking 10 minute shifts to rest aching shoulders and sore thumb joints. It occurred to me, as I tried to catch the eyes of passing motorists, that this was a task of attraction and confidence. Like posturing for attention at a bar, I immediately became conscious of my appearance and demeanor: “well, how do I look? hood up or down? is my beard scary? would YOU pick me up?” With a weak sun low in the sky, I eventually settled on an affable, yet stoic squinting grin, backpack resting against my knees. In contrast, Isabella donned a demure smile, chin held high, hand on hip.+Continue Reading
Between the Occupiers, Arab Springers, deposed despots, wobbly Euro, Japanese quake, economic stagflation, and the passing of Steve Jobs, 2011 was rocky like Banff. Still, CarEnvy managed to publish over 70 articles and complete a top-to-bottom site redesign. Not bad for a mostly-one-man-show, eh? In that time, we also reviewed 18 cars, a new record for us. So let’s recap the year that was with CarEnvy’s Best and Worst of 2011 including such categories as Worst Car We Reviewed, Best Interview, Best Press Trip, Worst Movie We Saw, and Best Car We Spotted.
Read away!+Continue Reading
I’m really not a foodie. I can’t emphasize that enough. Foodies blog, tweet, and yammer on ad nauseum about everything they’ve ever eaten as if it were their last meal before getting the chair. I don’t even like food that much. I tolerate food. I get that it’s tasty and all that, but there seems to be more landmines than jackpots out there. I’m not talking about food poisoning but rather nutritional value. I guess what I’m saying is that I value my health more than I value tastiness. This opinion very much places me with the salmon swimming upstream against the relentless onslaught of marketing messages, societal pressures, and social acceptability. Being a foodie is cool. Being an un-foodie flat-out isn’t.+Continue Reading