Eagle Nest, New Mexico, 2012. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.

PHB

My Photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 25 years--we're recyclers. I've published 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS (2012), and 2 collections of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). Novel # 3, KARIN, will be out from Pantheon (US) and House of Anansi (Canada) in March 2016. More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I've been teaching at Colorado College, Wichita State, and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chevrolet Volt & Berlin & The Autobahn

 Our road trip to Berlin in a Chevy Volt is up here on chevy.com


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mercedes Benz 508D & L319

I noticed this decommissioned fire department truck in the Frankfurt suburb of Niederrad. Couldn't get much boxier, could it? But boxes make sense for hauling stuff. My son has a toy one of these. I find something very appealing about the no-frills shape of medium-size Mercedes truck and vans. Form follows function. Like the 207D van posted on AL a while ago. Not sure of the era of this unit: late 1980s, perhaps?
 

The M-B van that started it all was a beautiful thing: the 1955 L319. 


Mecedes Benz 230 TE


I'm in Germany, so I'd better do a Benz post. It is amusing to visit the Rest of the World and notice that M-B means more than the hyped-up luxury-brand image it fights to maintain in the US.  That is why those big Mercedes vans are sold to Fed Ex in the US as Freightliners, with not an M-B star in sight. People would think they were paying too much if Fed Ex delivered the goods in a Mercedes.
If you watch CNN you know that wherever refugees are in flight--Syria, Iraq, Africa--there are always a lot of Mercedes sedans in the dusty line-up. Usually diesels, and usually piled sadly high with family belongings.
I know in Lisbon, and certainly here in Frankfurt, pale yellow Mercedes are the standard issue taxicab. And Mercedes Benz is a huge presence in the big transport truck market here in Europe and in the R-o-t-W.
I've never owned a Benz but I'd like to one day: nothing fancy, maybe from the 80s, low-mileage, diesel, durable. Like this 230 TE wagon I saw along the Mainkai here in Frankfurt.




Friday, January 25, 2013

MGB GT

These cars lost their blythe spirit when they had those monster black bumpers slapped on them in 1974. This car which I'd guess in 1967, would have had the slender chrome bumpers, but even these have been deleted, which makes the car look ever more nimble. MGB-GT was an unfortunate name; it sounded like an acronym for one of the secret police services in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The owner of this car, I notice, has gotten rid of the "BGT" on the badge in back, leaving just MG. That British Racing Green always works. There's a story called "smell of smoke" in my upcoming story collection (Travelling Light, House of Anansi, May 2013) that is about learning to drive in an MGB, and a few other things, too.




The Dutch Chevy Silverado 1500 Pickup

Okay, they are following me. I leaving The Netherlands tomorrow, heading to Germany for a few days then home.  But for six months I have been living around the corner from the only old Chevy pickup in the Netherlands.

chevy.com & the truck thing




In our family, sadly, trucks were a guy thing. B, my wife, did not share the truck trope. B is a professional stylist who chooses the props, settings, models and layouts used in those clothing catalogues that arrive in your mailbox weekly. She has an eye for clean design and for handsome, simple objects. Her eye will pick out the right wallpaper, the classic motor launch, the understated English garden, the perfect linen slipcovers and the model who will somehow look elegant in those rubber boots being sold on p. 26.
But trucks? Not B’s thing. Too large. Too loud. Too…truckish...
                  You can read the rest of my piece about the home fleet on Chevy.com 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

dutch landscape

I'm saying goodbye to The Netherlands and my Fellowship at NIAS this week. I shall miss many things about this country. One of them is the beach at Wassenaar. Always astonishing light out there, summer or winter; rain, shine or snow.
'I prefer to take "landscape" as a collective term for the temperature and pressure of the air, the fall of light and its rebounds, the textures and surfaces of rock, soil and building, the sounds (cricket screech, bird cry, wind through trees), the scents (pine resin, hot stone, crushed thyme) and the uncountable other transitory phenomena and atmospheres that together comprise the bristling presence of a particular place at a particular moment.'  Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways


Landscape: a definition

                                

'I prefer to take "landscape" as a collective term for the temperature and pressure of the air, the fall of light and its rebounds, the textures and surfaces of rock, soil and building, the sounds (cricket screech, bird cry, wind through trees), the scents (pine resin, hot stone, crushed thyme) and the uncountable other transitory phenomena and atmospheres that together comprise the bristling presence of a particular place at a particular moment.'  Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways
              The photographs arrived this winter week from Hilary Johnstone in LaRonge (northern) Saskatchewan. 
                               
                                                                           ©2013 Hilary Johnstone




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1988 F-150 and West Texas


from our man in far-West Texas, Don Culberston, who always has an eye for a Ford. "The real deal. Mr Madrid bought this new and it's been a farm truck on the Rio Grande for years."--DC
Oh lord I miss West Texas. Lately I have been reading the wonderful memoirs of Ben. K. Green,
a cowboy, cattle buyer, and writer who started out in the cattle bidness in 1929 and has things to say about ranching and cowboying that are unromanticized and accurate and goddamn true. As well as colorful. My experience was very limited in time and place to the hill country of Alberta (Sundre, Dog Pound, James River Bridge) in the mid-70s, and I was about as far as you could get from being a top hand and still be on a horse, but what Mr Green has to say about the life sure rings true. Have a look at his Wild Cow Tales. Miles better than the usual folksy bushwa on the subject.

Monday, January 21, 2013

1954 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery

These photographs came from William Kirk Moore and were shot in Calif., don't know where exactly. There was one of these for sale at Hemmings. A project car, as they say. Looks like surface rust to me. Except that nibble on the hood. Most of these SDs, when recovered, tend to get way over-restored. Is there a way to freeze-frame the rust; not get rid of it, but stop--or pause--it? Then do everything underneath. So she rolls. But let the car show its 59 years of exposure to America.












Saturday, January 19, 2013

Peugeot Pickup à Paris


From our observer: "This pick-up can be seen all over the Latin Quarter. I thought it looked nice with the snow. It is so unusual here! A pity I didn't get there last night, when people all over Paris were throwing snow balls."--I.C.

Ice Biking

There's been a cold snap in the Netherlands this week. The wind is howling out of the east--off the frozen steppe--instead of the usual warm wet wind from the west, off the Gulf Stream. Some canals have frozen which gave my NIAS colleague, the intrepid Guido Goluk, Kerouac's Dutch translator, a smooth trip home to Amsterdam. He's biking in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan this summer.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Land Rovers, part 7













Fiat 500

There are still a herd of these trucking around the Netherlands. I remember in Rome watching people park in tight spots by lifting them up by the front bumper and nudging them in. And it astonished me how many Florentine cops could fit into one 500.