Now, I've always despised Xmas. My customary response to a cheerful "Merry Christmas!" is to mumble, "Hare Krishna." (If you do it right, no one notices.) That I was willing to:
  • dress as Santa Claus
  • fly three-fourths of the way across the country to claim a roofless car that someone's willing to give away for free
  • drive a roofless car across the midwestern states in the dead of winter
  • depend upon this car for reliable transportation once back in Arizona
should tell you all you need to know about the car I was driving back then.

Lady Kathy, editrix of the Ladies' Fetish & Taboo Society Compendium of Urban Anthropology, was planning to come along for the cold, cold ride. Here's a post-trip excerpt from her magazine:

This hasn't quite risen to the level of Theory yet, but we're working on it. It bears no relation to Andy Warhol's concept of modern fame. Anyone else have the experience of going to enormous trouble and expense for an event that sputters out like a wet firecracker, leaving divine laughter resounding in its wake? The gods tossed a couple of definitive examples at the Society's nerve center this past winter. Our Editrix was able to sidestep the first (and more spectacular) of the pair only by grace of illness and a rare exercise of common sense. Devoted pen pal and partner in confusion Doc was not so nimble.

The plan was to fly to some point in the northern Midwest and drive a 1974 Pontiac (minus the roof, which had been cut off, and plus a medallion of Lucky, the Fisher-Price dog, which had been painted on the hood) during Xmas week from Detroit, MI or thereabouts to Tempe, AZ, following as much as possible what is left of Route 66 and wearing, at least in Doc's case, a Santa suit.

Mark Simple made the raffle announcement to the world at large via the X Magazine Internet mailing list:
Tue, 13 Dec 1994

The Twelve Days of Xmag: A special holiday journey, by a crazyman. Okay, so you might recall the recent X Mag Staff Car raffle. All of the entries have been received. Here are some statistics:

  • Entrant farthest away from X Mag Staff Car: Doc.
  • Entrant nearest away from X Mag Staff Car: Doc.
  • Only entrant: Doc.
  • Doc WINS!
Logic dictates that Doc should proceed immediately due South, since the X Mag Staff Car HASN'T GOT A ROOF, that is to say, we chopped it off.... You or I, certainly in this situation, would head post haste for warmer and more forgiving climates. Not Doc, whoa no, my dear reader. Route 66 is his thing, and unconfirmed reports at this time indicate that another infamous small press magazine editrix will be accompanying him. I know what you're saying at this point: "He's insane, that Doc kid is." One thing I know you're not saying right now runs along the lines of "How irresponsible of X Magazine to allow that poor feller to drive in such horrendous conditions! I think I, and my fellow readers, will bring forth a class action suit!" You're not thinking this, I sense, because of my phalanx of high powered, bloodsucking, immoral attorneys.... Anyway, we will be providing CONTINUOUS and as always HILARIOUS coverage of this MIND BLOWING event. If you're feeling generous because there's a lot of rampant commercialization going on right now, you can send some cash to X Magazine to purchase some nice tires for the Staff Car so Doc doesn't pull a Chappaquiddick Ted in some god-forsaken hellhole. The brand of tires the car has now are called "Aquafun glide," so I'm kind of worried for the poor salty dog.

Be a champ; screw the poor this year, at least we know how to celebrate the birth of Jihad Consumerism.

DISCLAIMER: In no way do we mean to imply that Doc received a FREE airline ticket from X Magazine. However, we're still sticking with that WACKY slogan, unless you're a high powered, bloodsucking immoral attorney from U.S. Air; if so, this is all SATIRE.

On the first day of Xmag, the weird staff gave to open top car unsafe at any speed. (and here I promised myself never to use an Xmas pun with Xmag. Oh well, you only have to suffer eleven more times. You can sing them if you'd like. No, go ahead.)

Holiday puns made E-Z: The Twelve Days of Xmag.

You know, I was going to honestly do this for each day, but I might as well send the whole thing NOW, so you can substitute the appropriate verses during caroling marathons. Brrrrr...caroling.

Santa lounges with Dolores.
On the twelveth day of Xmag, the weird staff gave to me...
Twelve cans of beer a-freezin'...
Eleven Seven-Eleven Freedoms a-waitin'... (sorry)
Ten cops a-chasin'...
Nine camera crews a-filmin'...
Eight cheesy Christmas lights...
Seven heating pads...
Six new Pixelvision tapes...
FIVE GOLDEN TUKES! (sorry again)
Four cheap-ass tires...
Three time zones...
Two Wagner parts...
and an open-top car unsafe at any speed.

Next day came a concerned e-mail from Pat, the less literate half of Lucky's co-owners:
14 Dec 1994

Subject: Re: highheels...microphone...?car?!

I would seriously recommend that you get decent tires. The alignment on the car is not real great as it is, and used tires don't do much for the ride. Also you may very well encounter ice/snow on your return trip and could use decent traction. (Have you driven on snow before?) Finally, I really don't know where to look for crappy used tires. I was planning on getting prices for cheap decent tires and (with your consent) having them applied to the car this weekend. I have scheduled this weekend as the say goodbye to lucky weekend, and the car was going to be thoroughly prepped for the great adventure ahead...

It has a hole in the floor boards behind the drivers seat. I have patched that hole with a piece of a stop sign that I cut up. It isn't really welded or anything, but it fits in there quite nicely. There is a significant hole developing in the drivers side floor boards, and I may be able to apply some sort of patch before you arrive. Other than that it is a .... interesting.... car. You know its got a great personallity... Kinda like other types of blind dates.... All in all, it is pretty reliable. I've fixed up the breaks, put on seat covers, covered all the exposed seams from cutting off the roof, carpeted the trunk etc. Some people don't even notice that it's not a regular convertable at first glance, of course, the paint job does attract some signifigant looks.... If you drive fast you don't get wet when it rains, but stoplights are a bitch. The headlights cross in an X pattern (they used to aim in to the tree tops.) We'll through in the tarp and bungee cords to cover it up. The windshield has some signifigant crack lines; probably contributed to by the still small, but widening, spreading the car is experiencing. Oh, yeah, the heater really kicks!

Do you have a credit card with enough money available for a bus ticket back to AZ? Don't think that you will really need it, but you never know...

Remember, even with the many times we've been stopped by cops, we've never been ticketed. We've also not been stranded anytime in the last 4 years due to mechanical problems etc.

In retrospect, may I just interject here: THANKS FOR JINXING THE TRIP FROM THE START. You know how, just when Dick Button & Peggy Fleming are saying how some skater is "almost automatic," the skater takes that as her cue to drop on her fanny? Well...THANKS, DICK!