Can you hack it?
Fixate for a moment on the Big Apple. Are ya groovin'? What do you think of?...Statue of Liberty, Broadway, noisy, crowded/cramped streets and...taxis, of course.
Catching a hack in New York City is, shall we say, a transcendental experience-and became ever more so for some lucky stiff on Aug. 6 when Castrol North America Inc., based in Wayne, N.J., held a one-day contest for anyone riding in an NYC taxi. (At TB press time the company had not yet announced the winner.) Riders had the chance to find the ``Castrol Syntec Key to the Cash,'' which opened a closely guarded box holding $35,000. Of that, $27,000-and a year's supply of Syntec full-synthetic motor oil-went to the passenger while the driver received an $8,000 tip. It obviously was a promo for the company's Syntec brand.
The catch: Passengers were instructed to look for the key in a cab's seat cushions or under the floor mats. Have you ever ridden in a hack? Maybe, just maybe we'd look under the floor mats-if provided with latex gloves and some Lysol. Never know what you're going to find there. But for 27 large, it would definitely be worth checking out.
This 'n that
Beamer him up, Scotty-A shiny new BMW 325i we spotted sported the vanity license plate ``MY BMR.''
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Where there's a Will-He said it back on Nov. 11, 1928, but humorist Will Rogers' words still echo eerily true: ``You could transfer Congress over to run Standard Oil or General Motors, and they would have both things bankrupt in two years.'' (Apparently legislators haven't changed much in almost 80 years.)
More Mr. Rogers wisdom: ``It's not what you pay a man, but what he costs you that counts.'' (March 22, 1925); ``If the other fellow sells cheaper than you, you call it dumping. Of course, if you sell cheaper than him, that's mass production.'' (March 5, 1932). (Sounds like the tire business, eh?)
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Work ethic-Author Fred Dehner observed: ``The best helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.''
Age-old question answered
SUVs...gotta love 'em, right? Not necessarily.
Former Ford Motor Co. PR chief Jason Vines is now president of the Sport-Utility Vehicle Owners of America (SUVOA). In July, he was the brains behind a takeoff on the series of ecologically top-of-mind ads that questioned, ``What would Jesus drive?''-which tried to make the point that it's doubtful the Lord would buckle up behind the wheel of a gas-guzzling SUV. The original ``Jesus'' TV commercials, initiated by the Evangelical Environmental Network, ran last December and urged consumers to avoid vehicles that pollute.
In Mr. Vines' version, his group found an SUV owner whose first name is Jes£s (pronounced ``hay-SOOS''), a common name among Hispanics. The SUVOA ad spouted: ``What does Jes£s drive? We asked him.'' It went on to say that for Jes£s Rivera and millions like him, ``it's all about Safety, Utility & Versatility. Maybe that's why they call them SUVs.''
Articles about the ad campaign ran in the New York Times, on the front page of the Financial Times and in many other newspapers. Mr. Vines debated a spokesman for the religious environmentalist movement on MSNBC's ``Hardball'' program and overall has got a lot of media buzz about the effort. And he said he's ``thrilled.''
``It's been received the right way. People got a chuckle and it also drove people to our Web site (www.suvoa.com) to learn the facts. There's been a fact void out there,'' he told Automotive News.
Although the group's Web site argues that SUVs are among the safest vehicles to be riding in during a crash and that emissions and fuel economy have improved, the original ``What would Jesus drive?'' proponents aren't buying it (or SUVs, probably). They've responded that SUVs are more likely to injure occupants of other vehicles in accidents.
Reminds us of the words to an old polka, ``In Heaven there is no beer''-and probably no SUVs, either. If we ever get there, though, we'll try to let you know.
While we'll reserve judgment on that hulking road hog the Hummer H2 from General Motors Corp., the Sierra Club isn't mincing any words about its huge frame and 10-mile-per-gallon fuel economy (that's ``economy''?).
The environmental group has launched www.hummerdinger.com, a Web site to ridicule the sport-utility vehicle with an attitude. According to the New York Times, the site features a cartoon movie parody of Hummer TV ads and even a quiz to see if you're a ``Hummer hunk.''
A mock story states: ``GM celebrates Hummer's state-of-the-art 1950s engine technology with some of today's hottest stars,'' cheekily noting Pat Boone and Frankie Avalon have been lined up as celebrity endorsers.
GM has dismissed the criticism, the Times said, pointing out that H2 sales amount to just one half of 1 percent of the U.S. vehicle market.
Hey, maybe its time for yet another version of ``Beach Blanket Bingo''-with an H2 kicking up a huge curtain of flying sand as elderly beach bunnies scatter for their lives.