TO THE RESCUE
I recently decided against renewing my subscription to SI, and one of the reasons that I gave you was not enough good fishing articles.
The Longest Silence, by Thomas McGuane in the Dec. 1 issue, goes a long way toward correcting that deficiency. McGuane must be a fly-fisherman's fisherman. If only you would see fit to have more of this kind of writing for those of us who fish for the thrill of the art—as so aptly put in the first paragraph. Keep in mind what McGuane said about the hunting-and-fishing periodicals. I believe that a lot of ardent fishermen are becoming bored with them. Why don't you come to our rescue much more often?
H. RAY BURKHART
SURFING IN A SEWER
I enjoyed reading your article on surfing in Santa Cruz (Doo Wa Diddie Squiggly Wigglies: Get Lost, Dec. 8). However, I feel I should explain the conditions of Monterey Bay. Surfers are restricted to certain areas due to sewage disposal. The contamination in the bay is rapidly increasing, and the desirable areas for surfing are diminishing. Therefore, the contest puts even more restriction on "a free man's art."
Although I delighted over New Kind of Wheel at GM (Dec. 15), I am sure that not even the mod John DeLorean can accomplish more than superficial changes at General Monster. The article belabors his good taste in several areas but neglects to tell us that the Pontiac division, which he pulled from the clutches of little old ladies from Pasadena, led the way in this tasteless crusade for more brute horsepower—usually used illegally on our highways and streets. Furthermore, Pontiac was the most flagrant violator in the use of names such as Grand Prix and Le Mans, titles few, if any, American cars have earned.
It is encouraging, however, to see anyone in high position at the mushmonster factory who believes that decent braking, steering and suspension must be had in all vehicles from Detroit. In 1959 and 1960 this country saw the worst excuses for automobiles ever offered in the history of automotives. Road & Track aptly called them the "awful awfuls." Bouncing about on their baby-buggy springs, one pump of the brakes and that was all one had. It would be difficult to select the most hideous of this motley lot, but I'll nominate either the Cadillac or the Chevrolet. The entire industry should have been indicted for homicidal negligence. But Ralph Nader proved that not only must our native carmakers be dragged kicking and screaming to a modicum of decency in the field, but that they are relatively invulnerable, even from the Congress. The token safety improvements are only 20 or 30 years behind the best of the European sedans, such as Mercedes-Benz and the English Rover, as well as behind in overall maneuverability, the crux of safety. Bobby Kennedy pinned down the head of GM at one time and made him admit that the so-called leader in the field spent very little of its revenue on safety research. Some leader.
I am not a sports car buff who sees no good in the native American product. I have owned various foreign vehicles and found them wanting in many degrees. My concern is that the directors of this huge and untouchable monolith have reduced the noble auto to the level of a piece of consumer durable goods, with our safety last in consideration. It has been said that we accept the carnage on the roads as the price we pay for our transportation by car. Of course we accept it, we have no choice. But it is not accepted with indifference, be assured.
The latest Nader blast is, as usual, well-founded but has no chance of success. The Big Three could have solved noxious emissions as a problem long ago, but it might have added a few dollars to the cost of the car, and that we cannot have. Can we? But the DeLoreans will go on entering the callow stock-car races (a misnomer) to enforce planned obsolescence. But with a straight face the head of GM's research says it is being worked on. Wow.
If Mr. DeLorean is flirting with politics and wants to impress his under-30 future voters, he might get more deeply involved with a new and vital crusade of the young: the protest against the destruction of our environment. With cars spewing forth a third or more of the gaseous wastes into the air, it may be a quicker end to the world via smog than legalized vehicular homicide. American business has indeed done more for our people and the world than all the government programs ever initiated, as DeLorean says, but now we'll see just how little the vast conglomerates like GM really care for a better world. It's easy to attack a sitting duck like GM (or commercial TV). The alternative is destruction, because it is obvious now that the carmakers will not act on their own.