Thursday, October 13, 2011

The times, they are a changin'...



You're going to find this hard to believe, kids, but when that movie was made, it was illegal to drive faster than 55mph anywhere in the USA. It's true; you can go ask your mom if you don't believe me. It was a thing called the "National Maximum Speed Limit", and it created more criminals and scofflaws than the tax code and marijuana prohibition put together. With all the nattering about energy saving lately, I'm surprised the idea hasn't surfaced again.

Anyhow, nowadays I keep the cruise control set at 69.5 KIAS (78 mph actual, according to the GPS) and I don't even turn it off when passing cops in the median, as an honest "Clip-clop-clip-clop... Oh, mister troll, don't eat me! My brother is coming along behind me and he's much faster!" beats a guilty-looking braking-induced dip of the front bumper any day of the week. And it's gotta be a slow day at the Krispy Kreme for a cop to write you for less than ten over on the interstate.

And speaking of cops in the greensward, what is going on in Tennessee? Either west Tennessee is a radically different place from east TN, or y'all have broken the state since I left. I passed 25 cop cars in the median between Memphis and Nashville, and except for three old 'black & tan' Crown Vics, they were all hulking, brooding black unmarked Tahoes with window tint that would get you or I a ticket were we to apply it to our cars. I drove back and forth from K-ville to Oleg's crib in Nash Vegas more than a dozen times and I don't think I saw that many cop cars, total.

Passing a couple-three of those parked up cheek-by-jowl every few miles gives one a creepy "police state" feeling, let me tell you. I'm sure it's to save me from the scourge of interstate dope smuggling or something, but I'd rather the kid next door lit a spliff every now and again than have to buy the po-po the latest fashion in "interdiction cars" every few years.

63 comments:

Jon said...

Thanks for making me feel old Tam. When I was learning to drive, Interstates were *just* starting to go to 65. That was *fast* when I was 14.

And Smokey and the Bandit was a favorite of mine, years after it first hit theaters...

Because I'm not *that* old ;)

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I think you have to go 100 in the DC area to get a live police officer to write you up for speeding. The traffic cameras take care of that problem for them.

Now, God forbid, you drive around without a seatbelt and police cruise comes up from behind...

Anonymous said...

West Tennessee=drug interdiction corridor, an enormous honey hole of money (usually give it over to the feds for a 80/20 split).

Shootin' Buddy

elmo iscariot said...

I passed 25 cop cars in the median between Memphis and Nashville...
I'm sure it's to save me from the scourge of interstate dope smuggling or something, but I'd rather the kid next door lit a spliff every now and again than have to buy the po-po the latest fashion in "interdiction cars" every few years.


That's the "music highway", innit? I expect that road has one of TN's highest rates of tourist traffic. The strict enforcement is probably to save the po-po from the scourge of making do with last year's interdiction cars.

[wv: "patizedu", which I'm pretty sure is the Babylonian god of law enforcement. "Patizedu loosed the messengers of the law to cite Tiamat for creating a public nuisance, and the messengers were loosed from his right hand..."]

Anonymous said...

hulking, brooding black unmarked Tahoes with window tint that would get you or I a ticket were we to apply it to our cars.

Local DEA or “Cocaine Cowboys”

I understand it is very profitable for the counties involved. Given some news articles I have seen, sometimes for the officers too.

Woodman said...

My favorite part of this movie is what they are smuggling.

The premis of the first movie would make for a pretty short remake. Getting a truckload of Coors for a party just takes a phone call to the corner store now.

It would also be a much different movie with gps and cell phones. Imagine the GPS yelling "recalculating route" during all the chases.

And I think Juris-my-diction has changed as well. Fun movie though, saw it recently and it's just as fun as when I was a kid, but for different reasons.

Anonymous said...

Yep, drug running. international IIRC: Mexico to Canada.

Yu-Ain Gonnano

perlhaqr said...

But Tam, someone, somewhere, might be having fun! And we can't have that.

Matt G said...

From watching that vidjo, I can tell that:
--they used FAR better shocks and spring kits on 1970's cars than they do, today,
--Wood items were made of compressed paper back then, and car bodies were made of carbide, with tenifer finishes,
--Reckless driving, blindly driving into ball games full of kids, and destroying other folks' property was considered a hoot back then,
--If you didn't have CB and a trucker friend, you weren't shit.
--As learned in Dukes Of Hazzard, all washed out bridges are facilitated with a jump ramp.

azmountaintroll said...

The whole movie would need "Pop-up Video" style footnotes to make sense.

Ken said...

With all the nattering about energy saving lately, I'm surprised the idea hasn't surfaced again.

Hillary floated it for about 5 minutes back in the '08 campaign, and eyebrows still smoking, said, "Never mind..." (furiously scribbling additions to her little list all the while).

CTone said...

"I drove back and forth from K-ville to Oleg's crib in Nash Vegas more than a dozen times and I don't think I saw that many cop cars, total."

Don't drive I-95 through VA then. It's been stacked with unmarked VSP cars at every other crossover for so long it has become normal (yikes). The commonwealth is full of revenue to snatch up for our greater good.

og said...

Illinois cops used to be good for yin-yanging like that in the median on 80 until they started putting transponders in the cars- then having two cars sit in the same location for extended periods was frowned upon. Michigan still does it, too. back in the days of Michigan using Mustangs, I actually saw a black one and a white one sitting like that, which is when i started calling it yinyanging.

Tam said...

Og,

Only a couple were facing opposite directions. There were two clumps of three Tahoes all pointed in the same direction, parked mirror to mirror...

og said...

"parked mirror to mirror..."

So they could charge off after evildoers!!!

I remember getting a ticket in Gridley Illinois at four ayem for five over. I was not in a good mood, and hadn't yet had my coffee. For whatever reason I actually asked the cop if there weren't any damned donut shops in this town, and he directed me to one. I still don't know if I should be glad he didn't tune me up for being a smartass, or pissed that I got nicked by the dumbest cop in north America.

Anonymous said...

As Shooting Buddy says they will also run the same on I-65 into Kentucky. KSP patrols pretty heavily up to Cave City.

Gerry

Kids, at one time you could not buy Coors east of the Mississippi. It's true!

Farm.Dad said...

If they are facing the same way at least one is a two man unit , otherwise its too hard to pass the donut or good porn on the phone .

Tam said...

Gerry,

Actually, I only saw two KSP cars lurking on the roadside my entire trip. (I use I-64 and I-75 a lot on my IND-TYS jaunts, and have never noticed much of a KSP presence on them, but this was my first time traversing I-65 south of L'ville.)

Tam said...

(The Pontiac-style rear-facing shaker hood scoops grafted onto the Plymouth Fury cop cars in that movie have bugged me for years...)

Bubblehead Les. said...

Parked Mirror to Mirror? Well, that just makes it easier to pass the box of Krispy Kremes between the Vehicles, now doesn't it? ; )

og said...

The damned song will be bugging me for at least six hours.

Duke said...

I watched this movie again a few months ago and cried when tractor trailer filled up with fuel for about $60 (best I remember) probably over 200 Gal.

Themadlemming said...

I used to live in Jonesboro, Ga.(where much of the movie was filmed) and still live close to that area. It's like a trip back in time for me to watch it and see how some places have changed and others haven't.

Anonymous said...

Ford recently stopped or soon will stop making the Crown Vic. Police departments around the country made a lot of last time buys to last them 5 years until they can trust a replacement. Ford kept their Crown Vic plant open 3 months longer than Ford planned. Tahoes are one of the replacements PD's are testing.

Sport Pilot said...

Alright, enough with the da** d-nut cracks:-). S-Buddy is pretty much on the money in his observations, lots of grant money involved w/LEA through that route. Can also be swung as Homeland Insecurity due to the big muddy city.

Tam said...

The Crown Vic line has been shut down for a couple months now.

The Tahoe has had a police package available for some time now, ever since Chevy discontinued the Caprice Classic.

At the moment, the Dodge Charger seems to be the heir apparent to the Crown Vic. (The 3.6 V-6 found in most fleet cars has as much wallop as your average older 4.6 Crown Vic, and you sure don't want to try and run from a Hemi Charger pursuit car...)

og said...

The Charger seems to be a good choice from a size/function standpoint. I'm curious how the pentastar does in the long haul; the Crown Vic engines were all designed from the get go to idle almost constantly for 4 years at a time with hardly any off time; if the Pentastar can hold up to that kind of torture it will be a good replacement indeed.

Thankfully the transmissions are cheap and easy to replace.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

yin-yanging. that's good. we always called it "Adam-69" where I'm from.

Oleg Volk said...

When I returned from Germany in early 2004, I was amazed to see roughly a dozen times (!) more polizei on a 10 mile drive to work than I saw in the entire ten days in Dusseldorf. Urban US is a police state, if the number and the activity level of cops is any indication.

Lewis said...

Cue obligatory reference to Merle Haggard's comment about having had more rights as a fresh parolee in the early 1960s than as a free citizen today.

benEzra said...

"Don't drive I-95 through VA then. It's been stacked with unmarked VSP cars at every other crossover for so long it has become normal (yikes). The commonwealth is full of revenue to snatch up for our greater good."

Yeah, I can vouch for that; just passed through there on the way back from Boston Children's. Also I-95 through Prince Georges County, MD, which (IMO) is even worse. They intentionally set the speed limit on an eight-plus-lane superhighway at only 55mph, and then salt it heavily with cameras and troopers to raise revenue.

What really chapped me as I crawled through their gauntlet at a GPS-confirmed, cruise-control-locked 58 mph was seeing two different broken-down motorists struggling to change tires/fix cars on the shoulder of the Interstate, *WITHIN SIGHT* of county revenue enhancers sitting in their cars in the median. In a lot of states, the troopers would have been parked behind the stalled cars instead, with their lights going and the officer helping the stranded motorists. I guess Maryland has different priorities. :(

Chas S. Clifton said...

"Kojak with a Kodak." Yes, you are going to need those pop-up notes in the future.

Will said...

benEzra:

In CA, it can cost a CHP officer his badge if he ignores a stopped/broken vehicle. Some years ago a legislators family sat on the side of the road for 5 hrs, while CHP units blew by. He got a law passed as soon as the next session started. I've seen them smoking tires with their brakes, to allow them to get behind them. They eventually figured out they just need to call it in to dispatch and then go around, to avoid creating unsafe conditions. Amazing what can happen when their job is on the line. Shame this sort of threat can't be instituted for a bunch more actions by their fellow badge buddies.

Rob Reed said...

"Yep, drug running. international IIRC: Mexico to Canada."

So, since Coors is available nationwide now, the logical remake would be ATF agents running guns to Mexico then.

Eh, that wouldn't work. Who'd chase them? Not other cops, obviously.

Rob Reed said...

Forgot to add:

I've been saying for years that a return to the 55 MPH speed limit is all we need to return to that Carter-era "malaise."

Drang said...

Growing up in MI, we used to say that, if you were driving thorough OH with out-of-state plates, you didn't need to stop for lunch, just hold a pound of ground round out the window and the Ohio Highway Patrol would nuke it for you. When the USDOT raised the speed limit to 60 the commander of the OHP said they would start ticketing at 61. Not sure how that worked out for them. I do know that, when we went back for a family reunion, all the relatives who drove up to MI were bitching non-stop about driving through OH, including the ones I thought of as "little old ladies."

Adam said...

Here's a news article on why there were so many police there.

http://www.newschannel5.com/story/14643085/police-profiting-off-drug-trade

Revenue-enhancing measures.

Doug said...

Tam & Og, the local PDs here have started going with Chargers; the feedback I've heard is that they are fast, but visibility sucks.

og said...

Yeah, my (nominal) boss has one, and it seems to have been designed predominantly for giraffes.

Anonymous said...

Smokey and the Bandit - the cheap redneck version of The Gumball Rally, which was a comedy spoof of the late great Cannonball Run. Them was the days! Not sure what the current record is, but I think I heard somewhere between 31 and 33 hours.

All-black Tahoes? Whatabunchapikers. 'Round hereabouts, they use full-on Suburbans (suitably blacked-out-n-tinted, of course).

"...There were two clumps of three Tahoes ..."

Black Riders looking for Hobbits?


And the local po-po use Chargers with low-res grey markings, just like the Air Force uses on their birds.

BoxStockRacer

Tam said...

Og,

"Yeah, my (nominal) boss has one, and it seems to have been designed predominantly for giraffes."

Yeah, the retro styling of the Charger (and 300, Magnum, Challenger, Camaro, and Mustang) has reminded me of one of Detroit's more peculiar styling obsessions of the late '60s/early '70s: Crazy high beltlines.

And, of course, since they're trying hard to ape that look, the newer cars have it exaggerated to the point of cartoonishness. If I sit in the Zed Drei with the top down, the windowsills barely come up to my bewb; do likewise in a Camaro or Mustang droptop, and the top of the door is practically level with my shoulder. Put the top up and it's like driving a machine gun bunker.

Six said...

Back when I used to push a police motorcycle my rule of thumb was 10 over in a residential zone, 12 over in a commercial zone (35 to 45 speed limit) and 15 over on the highway. Of course the CHP used to have a slightly different take on it. They had the unwritten 3/5/7 rule. At 3 over you could stop/could cite. 5 over you should stop/could cite. 7 over was should stop/should cite. None of the chippies I ever knew stuck to it religiously. Well, maybe one or two. Much like the FBI, those people had absolutely no sense of humor.

Kristopher said...

The Dodge Charger IS a sporty style machine.

It was also designed to be easy to work on.

Putting a cop car on a charger rolling chassis might be a good replacement for the crown vic. Bigger passenger compartment and windows sounds like a plan.

Justthisguy said...

There was a discussion about speed-limit laws a while back at the Aspie community on live journal. The consensus was that neither the laws, nor the enforcement of them, made any sense.

I do as the moderator of that community does, and drive at about one mile per hour slower than the posted speed,as annoying as that is.

I refuse to play their silly game, and I would rather not talk to cops if I had my druthers. Cops used to be pretty easy-going forty years or so ago, when I started driving, but these days I believe that entirely too many of them are, well, dickheads and assholes.

Don't give them an easy chance at you, folks!

Old NFO said...

Tam, I saw the same thing yesterday, except they were pulling 'suspicious' vehicles (at least 4 I saw), and all the DEA Tahoes had TSP backup, once past Nashville, I saw TWO total all the way to DC today, and both of them were working wrecks... As bad as the rain was today, they couldn't have run radar anyway...

Anonymous said...

Tam:
What you wrote was "...with window tint that would get you or I a ticket..." It should read "...with window tint that would get you or me a ticket..."

Also, I just heard, last night, from a member of the local PD that there is a cooling issue which is causing the wiring to melt on the new Chargers. He liked the car a lot, though; just not the wire harness issue.

Ulises from CA

Tam said...

Justthisguy,

"I ... drive at about one mile per hour slower than the posted speed,as annoying as that is."

Nothing personal, but I hope you die in a crotch fire.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I drove from North Cacalakey to Texas at 65 the whole way. Of course, I was towing a trailer, so Pppffffttt! to you!

Justthisguy said...

Tam, I drive as politely as I possibly can, and if you are driving faster than I am, I will give you every opportunity to pass me, even pulling off onto the side of the road if you seem, well, "excessively urgent."

In fact, the law of Georgia, in which I spent most of my driving life, requires one to get out of the way of someone who is driving faster, and wishes to pass him. That is a good law, I think, and I have always done my best to obey it.

Speed-limit laws, except where small children and kittehs are present, are, of course, bad and stupid.

Tam said...

As I close from astern in the fifty-dollar lane, you will first get the polite blinking of the left turn signal.

Should you not notice that, next comes the double flash of the high beams as I draw closer to your aft bumper.

When that fails to move you, don't get all bent when I drop the hammer and blow past you on the right...

Justthisguy said...

You would never have to do any of those things to me, Ma'am. I may be in my seventh decade, but I think I'm still pretty sharp, and would notice you in my mirrors.

Further: the problem would not arise, because I would be in the right-hand lane where everybody should stay, unless passing. I would not even think of impeding your progress along the highway, in any way.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. When I was last driving fast, back around 1970, the etiquette was one flash of the high beams to move the slug to the right. If that didn't work, then you could get rude on him.

deadcenter said...

An artifact of the bygone era of national speed limits here in Arizona is the "Wasting of Finite Resources" fine. Zero points as it's not a moving violation, no report to the insurance company, medium fine of around 85 bucks including court costs. Worth the price to avoid the first two.

HTRN said...

Boxstockracer, the "official"(oh, the irony of a underground race having official records) for the Cannonball Memorial dash is 32h51m set by Heinz and Yarborough in 79 in a Jag. Interestingly, a wacky Euro veteran of the Gumball 3000 rallys, Alex Roy, broke the official record by a fair margin - 31h4m. He did by using technology not available in the 70s, carefully planning his route(one of his more ideas was to try it on columbus day, to minimize traffic and the possibility of law enforcement). Wired has an article online about him.

Cybrludite said...

I will say this: A Crown-Vic is a great car to speed in without getting a ticket. I used to manage an average of 110 with mine on a stretch of highway known for its speedtraps back in the day. I miss that car and its 5 liter engine...

warlocketx said...

The tradition that the way to drive fast safely is to have a car that's the current popular flavor for unmarked po-leece is very old. When I was first driving it was a white Fury. They even had an ad to the effect that if you encountered a cop, what would he be driving? "Probably Plymouth!"

One thing is constant: It must not have fancy or aftermarket wheels. Stock pressed-steel rims with the fattest blackwall tires that will easily fit are the signature.

Nowadays, of course, it's Suburbans. Get yourself a black one with the aforementioned stock wheels and fat tires and a dark, light-absorbing interior. Have the windows tinted to 30% transmission, or 20% if the tint shop will go along with the gag; add a couple of lumps and at least one UHF "spike" antenna to the roof, and put something blocky in the middle of the dash, preferably with an LED or two (not more) glowing on it somewhere. A few extra lights in the front won't hurt, but keep them small. For icing on the cake, have a companion (or a dummy) in the right seat, dressed in white shirt, tie, and business suit jacket. Very important: Keep it clean and shiny.

In that, speed limit signs might as well not exist. There are two downsides: If you don't drive fast the local yokels are likely to try to find out what you're up to, and if you do get stopped the cop is likely to be more than usually suspicious and resentful.

An Ordinary American said...

The more law enforcement is relegated to prioritizing revenue generation and collection, the more irrelevant law enforcement becomes in the minds of most Americans.

As such, the gulf of "us versus them" continues to grow--to the point that many Americans are now warily viewing law enforcement as "the enemy."

When LE people protest to me and justify their actions or job description and say they're "just following orders," I respond by telling them to "just find another job."

Problem is, they like the power and authority.

--AOA

Ken said...

Mercury Marauder woulda been fun, I think. Wonder if you could get one with a manual trans....

Mark said...

Them the asset forfeiture guys looking to seize things. Look up Tennessee asset forfeiture on youtube

Justthisguy said...

I think G. Gordon Liddy was issued something like that, Ken, when he was a Fed in Gary.

He found Dillinger's old mechanic and got him to tune it up even rowdier for him. He said he could distinctly feel it shaking the ground under his feet when it was idling and he was standing next to it. Quite the camshaft it must have had.

I wonder if G. Gordon is still with us. I hope so, liking a bad (hell, right strange) but honest man on the good side of the law.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. Should have written "honorable." G. Gordon, like the guy in the play, is but indifferent honest.

Ian Argent said...

@New Jovian Thunderbolt: I got nailed for 50 in a 45 by a speed camera just north of Bolling AFB northbound on DC-295 a few years back, in the right lane getting passed... Fighting it would have cost me more than paying the fine. I no longer take DC-295.

The annoying thing about driving cop-model cars is all the people who panic-stop in front of you when they spot the nameplate in the rear-view

Beaumont said...

Tam, as long as you lived here, you know West Tennessee IS a different state. You know, if we could just pawn Memphis alone off on Arkansas or Missisippi, the statewide crime rate would drop by a third.