“That is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Matt. “I can’t believe you brought that home.”
“Yeah, me either.” I said.
* * * * * * * *
Ten years ago I made a solemn vow to never be in debt again, especially for a car. I wasn’t playing around, I meant that shit.
Then, a couple of years ago, having just returned from South America flat busted broke and in need of a job, my car threw a rod. In LA, to work, you gotta have a car, right? I mean, how else could I shlep the hour and a half drive each way to get ‘over the hill,’ every single day to Burbank?
I could hardly wait to march down to a car dealership and sign the next four years or more of my life away so I could be a slave to a car payment. And never be able to save money to travel. And be stuck in an endless cycle of working and driving long distances to get there, all to pay for a car. Fuck that, I drew a line in my west side Venice beach sand.
I was lucky enough to find a freelance job in Santa Monica and I rode my bike to work for the next three months, and saved all my money. I like having money in the bank. It’s much nicer than not having money in the bank. I didn’t want to blow my whole load of meager savings on a car, a thing that always depreciates in value. So, I started going every Tuesday morning to an LAPD car auction in Marina Del Rey.
One Tuesday morn, I walked into the tow yard with $1500 in cash. I’d learned a lot after a month of car auction investigation, mostly that there is a whole industry of greasy, sleezy car dudes who scour these auctions looking for great deals on cars to flip. I watched them quietly, took notes, asked a few regulars some well thought out questions, avoided the people who muttered to themselves, and now I was ready.
No car stood out above the rest that day. During the pre-inspection, I noted several cars with potential. I laughed at the plaid seats of a high-mileage, early 80’s rusted out Toyota hatchback full of car maintenance supplies. The auction started and when they got to the plaid-seated car, the auctioneer smiled and said, “She’s a runner!” and sure enough, they produced a key and cranked that old car right up.
You have to act fast at these auctions. I didn’t really have time to think about it. The only people bidding on this little car were the junk yard guys and I couldn’t let them take it away. I raised my hand to bid and five seconds later, for $350, I was the owner of a dirty, old-man car filled with lotto tickets and cigarette butts. We named her Bomb Diggity. Diggity for short.
I never expected it to last more than two months. Here it is, a year and a half later still going. I’ve cleaned her up – no, I didn’t check all the lotto tickets to see if there was a winner. (So many people ask me about that, I don’t get it.) But last week, I let artist Isabelle Alford-Lago paint blonde gorillas on it. Why?