Cars

Not a Techno-Thriller

Not a Techno-Thriller

The Volkswagen scandal was more diffuse, technical and tedious than most journalists allow.

Scandal always captivates, and the VW news captivated Americans for months—even those Americans who usually skip past the automobile section. Reporters like Ewing published updates nearly every day. John Oliver even jumped aboard with a comedy bit mocking the German language and ended with the line, “Hitler trusted us, why won’t you?” With the market prepared, Faster, Higher, Farther has been published simultaneously in English and German, and the author has been appearing on the morning shows to talk corporate scandal. Leonardo DiCaprio bought the movie rights.

Disrupt the Citizen

Disrupt the Citizen

Against ride-sharing

The proliferating but ever meaningless distinctions between the “bad” Uber and the “good” Lyft have obscured how destructive the rise of ride-sharing has been for workers and the cities they live in. The predatory lawlessness that prevails inside Valley workplaces scales up and out. Both companies entered their markets illegally, without regard to prevailing wages, regulations, or taxes. Like Amazon, which found a way to sell books without sales tax, this turned out to be one of the many illegal boons.

Famoustown

Famoustown

They would have never guessed that I was nothing like them, nothing at all, going not to my job but to my loft, about to sign a new lease on life.

The billboards began advertising the city long before I was even close to it. In fact, I’d barely left the Blandon City Limits when I saw the following question floating in my periphery: WHAT DOES FAMOUSTOWN MEAN TO YOU? Famoustown meant quite a lot to me, actually. Even though I’d never been there, it was a place I had been hearing about all my life. Big events were always taking place in Famoustown; it was a place that other places looked to for information on the current trends. It was also a place where famous people lived, and this had always given me pause. While I liked famous people just as much as the next person, I never wanted to be famous myself. After all, it didn’t take much to see what fame did to people, how it puffed up their pride, and let them speak every word with certainty; and how, over time, it seemed to make them resemble not the pleasant, ordinary people they surely were before fame found them, but rather mentally ill ghouls. And that wasn’t going to be my route, I knew.

Rise of the Machines

Rise of the Machines

On the Fast and the Furious movies

Every film franchise is a testament to growth and conquest. In the case of the Marvel movies, that growth is exponential and expanding: movies beget more movies, more spinoffs, more series that emerge from spinoffs. What sets the Fast and the Furious series apart from franchises like this—at least for now—is its habit of folding all that hot-media-property energy back into itself, making the movies all the more strange and intense.

Less of a Machine, More of a Pal

Less of a Machine, More of a Pal

The car of the future will be needy and unnerving, and will lack comic timing.

Imagine the value of a car that, thanks to an exclusive multi-year partnership, autonomously drives past Dunkin’ Donuts and heads straight for Starbucks when you say, “Leaf, get me a coffee.” Or, a car in which Nissan Pay replaces Samsung Pay or Apple Pay and takes a piece of the action.

The American Pickup

The American Pickup

As far as most consumers and producers are concerned, a pickup isn’t a pickup unless it’s big.

The pickup once demanded some accommodation. If you had a “need” for a pickup, you had to forego some of the creature comforts and utility of a car. You did without a good stereo and learned to appreciate poor handling.

The VW Bug

The VW Bug

On diesel and scandals

I should come clean here and admit that I was involved in the sale of a VW TDI myself. In 2010 I received the following email: “Dear n+1 car guru, I need to buy a car! What’s your assessment of the Prius vs. the new clean-diesel VWs? I look to you…”

I Am Not an Uber

I Am Not an Uber

A night with LA's Uber drivers

Twenty to thirty people, mostly men, show up for secret meetings on Los Angeles’s East Side, near the neighborhood of Little Armenia where most of them live. Clutching coffee and packs of Marlboros, they share war stories and ask for advice. Female drivers whose passengers send them sexually explicit texts, drivers of both genders who have been slapped or threatened—everyone speaks up.

Not a Techno-Thriller

Not a Techno-Thriller

The Volkswagen scandal was more diffuse, technical and tedious than most journalists allow.

Scandal always captivates, and the VW news captivated Americans for months—even those Americans who usually skip past the automobile section. Reporters like Ewing published updates nearly every day. John Oliver even jumped aboard with a comedy bit mocking the German language and ended with the line, “Hitler trusted us, why won’t you?” With the market prepared, Faster, Higher, Farther has been published simultaneously in English and German, and the author has been appearing on the morning shows to talk corporate scandal. Leonardo DiCaprio bought the movie rights.

Disrupt the Citizen

Disrupt the Citizen

Against ride-sharing

The proliferating but ever meaningless distinctions between the “bad” Uber and the “good” Lyft have obscured how destructive the rise of ride-sharing has been for workers and the cities they live in. The predatory lawlessness that prevails inside Valley workplaces scales up and out. Both companies entered their markets illegally, without regard to prevailing wages, regulations, or taxes. Like Amazon, which found a way to sell books without sales tax, this turned out to be one of the many illegal boons.

Famoustown

Famoustown

They would have never guessed that I was nothing like them, nothing at all, going not to my job but to my loft, about to sign a new lease on life.

The billboards began advertising the city long before I was even close to it. In fact, I’d barely left the Blandon City Limits when I saw the following question floating in my periphery: WHAT DOES FAMOUSTOWN MEAN TO YOU? Famoustown meant quite a lot to me, actually. Even though I’d never been there, it was a place I had been hearing about all my life. Big events were always taking place in Famoustown; it was a place that other places looked to for information on the current trends. It was also a place where famous people lived, and this had always given me pause. While I liked famous people just as much as the next person, I never wanted to be famous myself. After all, it didn’t take much to see what fame did to people, how it puffed up their pride, and let them speak every word with certainty; and how, over time, it seemed to make them resemble not the pleasant, ordinary people they surely were before fame found them, but rather mentally ill ghouls. And that wasn’t going to be my route, I knew.

Rise of the Machines

Rise of the Machines

On the Fast and the Furious movies

Every film franchise is a testament to growth and conquest. In the case of the Marvel movies, that growth is exponential and expanding: movies beget more movies, more spinoffs, more series that emerge from spinoffs. What sets the Fast and the Furious series apart from franchises like this—at least for now—is its habit of folding all that hot-media-property energy back into itself, making the movies all the more strange and intense.

Less of a Machine, More of a Pal

Less of a Machine, More of a Pal

The car of the future will be needy and unnerving, and will lack comic timing.

Imagine the value of a car that, thanks to an exclusive multi-year partnership, autonomously drives past Dunkin’ Donuts and heads straight for Starbucks when you say, “Leaf, get me a coffee.” Or, a car in which Nissan Pay replaces Samsung Pay or Apple Pay and takes a piece of the action.

The American Pickup

The American Pickup

As far as most consumers and producers are concerned, a pickup isn’t a pickup unless it’s big.

The pickup once demanded some accommodation. If you had a “need” for a pickup, you had to forego some of the creature comforts and utility of a car. You did without a good stereo and learned to appreciate poor handling.

The VW Bug

The VW Bug

On diesel and scandals

I should come clean here and admit that I was involved in the sale of a VW TDI myself. In 2010 I received the following email: “Dear n+1 car guru, I need to buy a car! What’s your assessment of the Prius vs. the new clean-diesel VWs? I look to you…”

I Am Not an Uber

I Am Not an Uber

A night with LA's Uber drivers

Twenty to thirty people, mostly men, show up for secret meetings on Los Angeles’s East Side, near the neighborhood of Little Armenia where most of them live. Clutching coffee and packs of Marlboros, they share war stories and ask for advice. Female drivers whose passengers send them sexually explicit texts, drivers of both genders who have been slapped or threatened—everyone speaks up.