I’ve been asking myself quite a bit lately, especially in the last week. You see, this past week I’ve lost two objects that I consider to be great life companions.
My parents bought this truck in 1992, and we drove all over the world in it. Many camping trips, beach trips, trips to the ER, swim meets, soccer games, you name it. There are a lot of young memories tied up in that hunk of metal.
My senior year of high school, after the death of my first car, the truck became mine. I named this bad boy Phileas and really put him through the wringer, testing his stamina, resilience, guts, and the ability to keep secrets.
One summer my neighbor and I invented a game we called “Coning.” This simple amusement involved filling the back of the truck with traffic cones from road construction sites around the city, then creatively arranging them in the front yards and driveways of our designated targets. I’m not sure exactly why we thought this was so hilarious, but it was fun enough that we actually started pulling others into the game and would often have four or five people along with us on these mischievous excursions. So, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. If you ever woke up with a front yard full of traffic cones, it was Tony and I.
Phileas also played a huge role in my young musical career; he was the ultimate band car. Myself and whatever band I was playing with at the time would load all of our gear into the bed of the truck, pile ourselves into the six-seater cab, and roll off to play whatever house party, record store, church, coffee shop, or bar that wasn’t checking IDs that night. More than once Phileas protested to his role as a makeshift tour van and broke down on the side of the freeway, most memorably in the middle of Riverside during a summer heat wave.
With one of my favorite bands I was ever in, The Lined Paper Revolution, a three man synth pop/new wave outfit (in the style of Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Elkland… but with a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek-humor and just plain awfulness) we often engaged in guerrilla marketing tactics in which the truck was our mobile command center. If we had a local show coming up we’d grab a handful of fliers, drive to public places, and someone would jump out of the truck and give fliers to passerby that looked worthy of an invite. It’s a wonder no one ever got punched or arrested for this, but it worked like a charm.
On one such outing we jumped back into the truck to go from one shopping area to another, and unbeknownst to me, Charles (the keyboard player) failed to put on his seat belt. Driving fast through a near empty portion of a parking lot Charles yelled, “Whip this bitch!” and I did just that… jerking the steering wheel and sliding into a parking space with in abrupt stop. Since Charles wasn’t buckled up, he flew out of of his seat and came to an abrupt stop when his head smashed into the windshield, crumpling into a little Guatemalan heap on the floor. David (bass/vocals) and I thought we had killed him, and we both had a moment of panic thinking about how mad Charles’ bitch girlfriend was going to be. Well Charles didn’t die, he just had a bump, but the windshield was forever cracked from one side to the other… I just couldn’t bring myself to replace it.
Phileas and I made it through our first two years of college together, moved my [then] girlfriend out of a terrible living situation, and gave me a place to sleep on long drives. After nearly 20 years and 400,000 original miles, Phileas has been donated to a good cause.
The second loss of the week is talked about this video.