Viridian Note 00244: Viridian Hot Rod Contest

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
design contest, green muscle cars, hot rods, terrified parents, humorless county sheriffs

Attention Conservation Notice: It's another in a continuing series of Viridian design contests.

Link: A design contest by those chuckling, lighthearted guys at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. They want a permanent monument for storing unused plutonium, which would otherwise be used to incinerate civilization. "We're also giving away more than $3,000 in prizes to the person or persons who come up with the best design for our Plutonium Memorial."

Kar Kulture! Crazy, maan!!

Gearhead Magazine! Hot rods and punk rock! Donnas Rule! Rat Fink Second Annual Party Extravaganza, Klassics, Kustom and Art Show: Tikis! Pin-ups! On-line ordering and ultra-fast shipping!

Viridian Note 00243, "Community Mobility," suggests a way in which we might leverage networks to obtain transport vehicles of whatever size we need, when we need them. The reasoning here is that most of the time we need small, sensible vehicles, so it's a big net gain in convenience, traffic density, and energy efficiency.

    However. What about those vital times in our lives when we need a car that really swaggers? A car that crushes the morale of the squares? Let's say you're a hard-case, American working-class youth much put-upon by truancy cops and teachers. You're boiling over with testosterone, with shoulder tattoos, grease in your hair and a shade-tree garage. You're into spoilers, slicks, dragsters and nitro-huffin' funny cars!

    Are you going to putter around your barrio, ghetto or trailer park in some kind of dinky little green shrimpmobile?! No way, daddy-o! What you need is a big, kick-your-ass, chopped and channeled, tangerine- flake, streamlined, hee-wack, green muscle car!

    Now, some people might object that a high-performance vehicle that breaks speed limits like they were dry spaghetti can't be "green." Well, sure == but only if they're burning fossil fuels. If you've got sustainable fuel, like say a rad combo photovoltaic system cracking water into hydrogen for your hotrod's monster fuel cells, then "conservation" isn't even an issue for you. What's the big deal here? Like we're going to run out of sunlight all of a sudden? Come on.

    It's those out-of-it wimps driving fossil fuel vehicles who are feeling all the pinch. At two bucks a gallon, their wallowing SUVs are being driven right off a market cliff. Whereas a properly designed Viridian hot- rod would blow these relics off the road silently, at super-high speed, using canned lightning and emitting only water.

    "But what about the materials that compose the car itself," hairshirt purists may further cry, though feebly, as is their wont. Look, just because a hotrod is made out of entirely green materials doesn't mean it has to look lame. There's a crying need for a green vehicle that causes high school principals to faint dead away. A car with a skull gearshift-knob and a worshipful groupie pit crew with beehive hairdos and bikinis. This demographic has deep roots in American culture! Its design needs must be served!

    Thus, the Viridian Hot Rod contest. We're looking for a green vehicle that the late Big Daddy Roth would meet with a fatherly smile of approval == even though it lacks an internal combustion engine. It's got to be completely obnoxious, rebellious and beyond the pale, but (and this is the crucial part) its greenness has to be the chunk of outlaw attitude that is really being rubbed in.

    So do us a portrait of your dream hot rod, put in on the web, and send me the address of the site. I will forward it to the list. The winner of this contest receives a mint copy of KUSTOM KULTURE, which is, like, the art-historical masterwork on the subject of Roth, Von Dutch, pin-striping and flame-painting.

And girls: since this is one of the most macho

subcultures on the planet, you need not even enter this contest. Your hands will fall off at the wrists if you are put in command of a genuinely powerful piece of machinery. Go put on a frilly apron and go have high tea with Shirley Muldowney.

    That goes double for you sissy, ladylike European girls.

    This contest ends July 5, 02001.

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