The Rip Post



By Rip Rense

One letter to a news organization, the axiom goes, is worth a thousand that are never written – maybe 10,000.

By that equation, I have just kept at least 1,000 SUV's (Silly Usurping Vehicle) off the road!

What a gas!

How? I received this note from reader Noel Poole regarding my recent column, "Dirty Words from Sir Real":

"A friend," wrote Mr. Poole, chief financial officer for a Los Angeles television company, "sent me the financing breakdown on the Escalade EXT at the same time that I received [the column.] The facts were not things I'm generally aware of, although I do feel that the change in our general weather patterns and the striking rise in cancer are related to what we're doing to our air and water.

"After reading that American consumption would eat up the world six times, if the whole world were to adopt this pattern, [The figure is actually four times – the calculation of Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard professor-author Edward O. Wilson], I felt a little sick about getting an SUV [Shameless Ultra-fashionable Varmint]."

So he didn't! The Escalade was de-escalated. The SUV (Silly Unsafe Varoom) was DOA. Noel, you make me feel like it's Christmas. I've won the Poole!

Of course, I will now be inundated with e-mail from people who say they are buying SUVs (Spectacularly Unnecessary Voogum) to spite me.

These will be the same folks who have written before – sometimes without even calling me "enviro wacko" – defending their "right" to drive an SUV (Stupid Unnatural Vulgarity). Ahem. Their right? The Bill of Rights says something about Ford Explorers? Who's the wacko?

Get this: A reader wrote to me a while back, "Where else can I get a car that seats nine kids?" My immediate thought was, "where did you get nine kids?" Instead I wrote something about how, well, gee, golly, gosh, there uh, didn't used to be SUVs (Slothful Usurious Van), and big families did OK with things called "station wagons," two cars, buses or even feet.

Another writer (actually several) raged about the "jack-booted" government taking away his right to drive whatever he danged well pleases! Now there's a guy who could use a week of walking to work. Next, he'll be complaining about violation of his right to eat Cheez Whiz.

Of course, there are good reasons to drive SUVs (Spectacularly Unnecessary Voyagers):

*They make you feel like you're on a safari!

*They make you feel invincible!

*They empower tiny, nervous women and big, angry men.

*They create a buffer between you and all the peons out there.

By now, savvy readers have cannily guessed that I don't like SUVs (Secreting Uncertain Virility) Why? They have a lot in common with a tumor I once had in my back. They are superfluous, ugly, cause pain, and interfere with health. More specifically:

They really hurt when they fall on Honda and Toyota drivers.

They eat gas the way the administration eats pollution regulations.

They are Goliaths disguised as Davids, trucks posing as cars, immune from auto emission standards, exponentially decreasing visibility and safety for those in sanely sized vehicles.

They excrete 47 percent more air pollution than normal-sized vehicles (say the "enviro-wackos" at the Sierra Club.)

They do not handle like Porsches, despite efforts to prove otherwise. (Perhaps, like me, you were not a fan of the late Lisa "Left Eye'' Lopes, of the hit group, TLC. Still, Left Eye would probably have given her Right to have not been in an SUV (Shockingly Unstable Variety), which rolled when she swerved to avert a collision, killing her.)

They are mistaken for living rooms. Drivers listen to rap with the volume set on "death-by-bass," suck cigarettes, slurp lattes, shout into cell phones, do their nails, and, yes, watch television (LCD screen in dash) – and combinations thereof.

They have idiotic names. I mean, Escalade? Range Rover? At least call them something appropriate. The Ford Lummox. The Chevy Fat Guy. The Jeep Dolt. The Pontiac Rich Jackass.

They are never seen being used for "sports" or "utilities."

OK, OK, you want a more reasonable voice? I give you, again, Mr. Poole:

"I wanted the SUV [Singularly Uneconomic Vamoose] because I wanted to go back to the days when I drove a truck, and it didn't matter that I'm a CFO and have to impress the buyers with the strength of our company."

Ah-ha! He admits the prestige factor! What's more:

"It's just cooler to be able to see over things and be aware of the coming traffic," Poole wrote, "to have some sense of illusion that I could control my world and get out of danger; to feel like there's a little roughing it in this fax/page/cell phone/pda moment-by-moment bombarding of information kind of world. It's just a plea to feel like we're part of the world we're actually consuming while we drive them."

An honest man. It's "cooler." It gives the "illusion" of control and safety – and even "roughing it" – yet is a really just big, honking, smelly, wasteful wad of ego in metal form.

That's one ex-SUV (Self-aggrandizing Ubiquitous Vermin) enthusiast.

Do I hear two?


2002 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.