Just wanted to give you an update on the Hippie-Mobile. The other day I parked the 1971 VW Camper on the street near my apartment in Washington Heights (or Hudson Heights, as optimistic real estate salespeople like to refer to this specific area). When I came out on a Tuesday morning to move the car for the street cleaners, the van was nowhere to be seen. Gone! I stood there like an idiot trying to think if I was totally mistaken. No, that’s exactly where I parked it. No question. Stolen? Towed? I called the DOT and they had no record of towing it. I went back and looked around like as if I just somehow had missed it, or it had been returned. Wrong.
I called the police and told them where I had been parked, and they said “Oh, we had to move it because of some last minute construction.” Nice. “Your vehicle is now at 4425 Broadway.” “Where the hell is that?” I snapped. “I dunno, around 190th street, I think in front of the funeral home.” An omen?
So I walked ten or so blocks from my apartment and found the Hippie-Mobile sitting innocently in front of the funeral home, looking terribly out of place. I inspected the van for damage, and other than a ding in the back bumper (from where they probably attached the hitch) it was fine. I jumped in and it started right up.
The traffic on Broadway was jammed, so I made a right onto 187th street. I got about a block down and there was an SUV trying to pass coming from the other direction, but the street was a bit narrow and he had stopped. I pulled over to the right giving him plenty of space to get by. He didn’t move, just stood there. I rolled down my window and gave him a nod like “you got it.” He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders, like “what?” I then said out loud “I’m giving you room to get by.” He then yelled “F%^& YOU YOU STUPID MOTHER-F^&*%$#.” I just shook my head and laughed, squeezing by. He was still yelling, his voice trailing off as I moved down Bennett Ave. You gotta love New Yorkers!
My mechanic, Michael Shiffer at EuroMeccanica in Mt. Vernon, happens to be an expert on hippie-mobiles, as he has one of his very own. He built me a new engine from scratch after I blew out the last one out during an attempt to drive my daughter Lisa cross-country (see blog). Mr. Shiffer warned as I picked up the van “Don’t drive it over 60 mph. It wasn't designed to go fast.” An understatement. But I have to say the new engine purrs. I happily drive it at 60 mph, letting the impatient whiz by. The looks I get from passing drivers alternate between “Dig your car, man” and “Why you diving so slow?” But there’s something about taking it easy, not rushing. The fact is I eventually get there, and there’s no risk of getting a speeding ticket.