Friday, October 5, 2007

"Ugly Vista" was taken. It's in Urbandale.

Wistful Vista ...

Let the name roll over you.

Wistful Vista ...

What does it remind you of? Breathtaking clifftop views of rolling pastureland? How about a distant skyline seen from the countryside? A brook wandering through a meadow, where deer stop to drink and raccoons pause to wash their food?

Wistful Vista ...

If you're a West Des Moines city planner or developer, it calls to mind acres of asphalt in the Jordan Creek Town Center parking lot, fields of dirt waiting to be turned into big-box stores or trashy 400-seat restaurants, and hundreds of cookie-cutter houses jammed onto the tiniest parcels possible. Wistful, indeed.


The purple chick magnet of Johnston High

A while back, I wrote a post about how Iowa is either the land where crappy midsize Chevrolets go to die, or the land where crappy midsize Chevrolets live forever. Either way, the roads are full of them -- Cavaliers, Corsicas, Celebritys and Berettas.

Yesterday, I made the mistake of driving past Johnston High School just as school was letting out for the day. I was stopped at a light on Northwest 62nd Avenue as a long line of cars turned out of the student parking lot. At least, I hope it was the student parking lot, because I would pity any teacher who showed up to teach a bunch of teenagers driving the vehicle that I saw pulling out of the lot.

It was a Chevy Cavalier, from the second generation of the vehicle, probably the early '90s. It was purple, which was unfortunate enough, but whatever fool owned this thing had attempted to jazz up the car further with Dodge Viper-style racing stripes. You know: the twin white stripes running over the top of the vehicle from bumper to bumper. Except that the owner of this car either couldn't afford or couldn't figure out how to get the stripes to go down the grill, so they just stopped at the front edge of the hood. And he didn't bother putting them on the back at all, so his high-performance paint job consisted of three feet of white stripes on the hood and three feet on top of the roof.

If you want to see ridiculous auto modifications, just go downtown any Friday or Saturday night, and watch the mouth-breathers scoop the loop in 1997 Toyota Camrys with enormous, fake air intakes on the hood or 1986 Cadillac Cimarrons with blacklight ground effects. There's nothing quite so simultaneously hilarious and pitiful as the sight of a kid driving a Dodge Neon with a two-foot-high spoiler that wiggles when he turns corners. (Because when you get that Neon up to 200, 220 mph, man, it just wants to take off like a jet fighter! You need the spoiler for stability.) And yet, somehow this sad little Cavalier I saw turning out of the Johnston High School lot topped them all. The bargain-basement used vehicle. The fifth-rate aftermarket accessories. It's almost enough to make you cry. Unless you saw the guy behind the wheel, who was so obviously proud to be driving this thing.