Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jimmy's New Car

For four school years I lived in our Nation's Capital. Its the only other place I've ever lived. I needed to prove that St. Louis was it for me.

While I was living in DC I hung out with two Brothers from Ireland. They live in the historic and leafy suburbs of Northern Virginia. We used to BMX together.

These brothers like going fast, By any means necessary. In automobiles, on bicycles or otherwise. Racing. Race cars. Their passion is active.

Each night, all around the District of Columbia, residents practice aggressive-driving during DC's 5-hour long evening rush hour. It's one of the National Capital's most universal pass-times. The point is to preserve sanity by spending as little time in horrendous traffic as possible. You beat the monster with superior knowledge of the area and masterful operation of the finest cars you can afford.

For the brothers, funds are limited. But their cars are getting better. Imagine my delight upon encountering this beauty.

Jimmy's New Car

Why yes, that is a Fucking Porsche with a Fucking Turbo!

This car cost $500

A turbo charged 1986 German sports car is the kind of thing misguided youth with speed issues are tempted to buy the world over. But when you truthfully address the Himalayan cost of maintenance, buying the car is often little more than folly.

Unless you happen to be a trained Porsche mechanic.

The kind of person that is building a legitimate race car in their bedroom. Yes, that is the motor on the other side of the bed. Right next to the carbon-fiber roof and hood. Here is the turbo. The rear suspension pieces are out of a 911 Turbo, he keeps them at work. Most everything else is from the 1980's Audi twin turbo Super Car that Jimmy bought a few years ago. As we speak it is waiting, in two pieces, in his sisters garage.

All that's left is to crunch some numbers. And make a tube chassis with the help of a friend who works at NASA. Then put everything together. Just a matter of time.

Jimmy is that kind of person. A genuine speed freak. He was behind the wheel when I set my own personal land speed record. One hundred and forty miles an hour in the passenger seat of a VR6 Volkswagen Corrado, while eating an Italian sub from WAWA. It would have been slightly faster, but we were on our way home from the skate park and had the extra weight of two BMX bikes in the back.

That was years ago, when I was still living in DC. Then the last time I visited, Jimmy had a Honda S2000. He showed me how it could break the tires loose at 40 miles an hour.

Now he was a Porsche. And a training regiment.

The fastest lap ever recorded on the 12.9 mile long Nurburgring race track in Germany is 6 minutes 11 seconds. If everything goes according to plan, Jimmy's race car should break 8 minutes on a well executed lap.

Its going to take practice.

My friends in DC like to play the game where you take every highway ramp at at least twice its posted speed limit. In a good car, on a good ramp, you can triple the speed limit. Shredding the interstate highway system.

I know, it all sounds great. But before you take the piggy bank to the work bench, let me warn you. Five hundred dollar, Stuttgart made, turbo sports cars are not perfect. For such a low price you have to expect some imperfections. The interior might not be totally sorted out. You will probably be smelling some fumes. Modifications may have to be made.

Make them with gusto.

Monday, March 8, 2010


We sometimes forget that St. Louis used to be one of the biggest cities in the country. It was San Francisco. The new edge of the country.

Around the turn of the last century, kids sat sulking in their New York City tenements waiting for the day they could afford to leave filthy New York behind and move to the big green end of the world in St. Louis. It's important to remember.

St. Louis is over-filled with history. It's running down the side of your 32oz Styrofoam cup, making your hands sticky.

We hosted a World's Fair for Christ's sake. There is a case to be made that the hot dog was invented here.

What if every time you stopped by the 7-11 on Southwest Ave for a chili dog, Guy, the attendant, handed you a white hot dog eating glove with which you clinched a naked hot dog between your first two fingers and thumb?

Where would you put the chili?

Apparently that's how frankfurters used to be served. Then some upstart business man brought his sausage and his box of white gloves to St. Louis, the big city, in search of fame and fortune. Instead what he found was hungry St. Louisans who wanted nothing to do with his kid gloves. They said things like, "You can keep the glove pal," and "What do I want a glove for? Just give it to me on one of those rolls."

Voila! An icon is born.

I wish I had been there at the moment of conception. The first guy to put a hot dog on a bun and top it with a squirt of yellow mustard. I wasn't.

But I go to Woofie's in Overland. So I'm not sweatin it.


Imagine its 1983. You're 22 years old. Your buddy has a 1960's small body muscle car with shitty brakes, shitty paint, cigarette burned interior and ashtray full of roaches. You are riding shot gun. Tall cans cost a quarter. It's a Saturday night in early September. Alice Cooper is on the radio. You're in the Parking lot at Woofie's. This is the beginning.

Woofie's At Night

Tonight could end anywhere, but it starts with a Coney Dog and a large Coke. A perfect base for a night of swilling cheap beer in tall cans still wet from coolers of ice, each can from a different gas station in a different part of town. The American Dream.

In St. Louis you can still touch it.

Go to 1919 Woodson road in Overland. Ask Paul. He got the place 14 years ago. He loved Woofie's hot dogs so much, he and his buddy mowed lawns for the owner just to be close to the action. Then the owner died. Paul got Woofie's and his buddy got the lawn mowing business. Paul sleeps well at night.

Unless he stays up painting signs or brainstorming new topping combinations. Go to Woofie's. Look at all the hand drawn and painted signs. Paul made every single one. His wife says it's like a grade school art project.

Paul The Owner

Woofie's is the monument to St. Louis' ownership of the hot dog. It's the proof. As far as I know there is no bronze plaque at the fateful spot where wiener first settled into bun one sunny day in the 1880's. But there is Woofie's. You can take a picture of a Chili dog the same way you can take a picture of a monument.

CONEY DOG: A Woofie Dog With Special Chili, Cheese, Chopped Onion & Pickle

In St. Louis a good thing can go on for ever. It just takes passion.

The Best Dumpster Corral In The World
Hand Painted by Paul