My Word: Slade

October 2, 2014 Comments (4)

by Denise McCluggage

Way 2 Cool

My friend Ribeye, whom I first encountered skiing at Taos where he was an instructor and then met again sometime later when he was making Way 2 Cool root beer in Santa Fe, was the one who told me this story. He had since returned to California where he was an electrician. Licensed yet. But then a grower of medical marijuana, as intricate and careful an enterprise as making perfect root beer, which Way 2 Cool was. (Ribeye said it was the Madagascar vanilla that mattered most. To Way 2 Cool, anyway.)

All of the above I present as background so you know that Ribeye had a background diverse enough to truly appreciate the scene he described to me. After I tell you about that I will meander off in the fashion writing for websites makes possible and I have come to enjoy. I’ve been at typewriters and keyboards for a long time so I can do precise-word-count and stick-to-the-point journalism. But it’s more fun to amble and ramble… So that’s the route I’ll take. Follow along if you like.

I don’t know what Ribeye was doing sitting on a bench at a bus stop in East Oakland, but he was. To fix the time I’ll say this was the year that Cadillac first built the Escalade. This in answer to dealers who kept whining for an SUV. General Motors didn’t want to build one insisting that the Grabowski branch of the family served that function nicely without involving Cadillac.

Here I am adding to your trivia closet so that you might at some point astound friends and colleagues or maybe even score yourself a beer. So maybe you thought GMC—that branch of the Detroit automaking group who claim to be professional grade and are producers of the Sierra pickup and a string of crossovers and SUVs—stood for General Motors Corporation or some such. Nope. The previous paragraph has the answer. GMC stands for Grabowski Motor Company. Isn’t that cool? Goes back 102 years so you’re forgiven if you didn’t remember.

Cadillac Escalade

Anyway the Escalade was on the market and not doing all that well. Until. Until the black community in Detroit and then elsewhere began picking up on it. And it became a most welcome financial success.

So Ribeye is on this bench in East Oakland, a neighborhood rather reminiscent of many Detroit neighborhoods. Seated next to him waiting for a bus was an East Oakland resident. And down the street approaching them came another resident. Rather more resplendent than the bench-sitter he wore a bright suit just a glimmer on the shiny side and what might have been a diamond chip gleamed from an incisor. He was clearly well-placed on the world’s surface. He greeted Ribeye’s bench companion. “Hey, man,” he said, “J’see my new Slade?” The man on the bench sat quietly, looking straight ahead. Two beats of silence then he said: “Ah seen it.”

Ribeye nearly choked trying not to laugh at the perfection of it. The shiny guy went on his Bo Diddley way and a bus came.

A few weeks ago I was delivered a press test car—the long, black enormousness of a new Escalade stood in my driveway. I walked around it, opened the door and watched as a full-size running board slide out. A Sir Walter Raleigh gesture that really meant something. A full-sized foot could actually stand on it. No slippy-slidey token little step for this appearing-disappearing act. Close the door, open the door. Come, go.

Cadillac Escalade interior

The black and brown leather interior was as rich as Belgian chocolate. The dash expansive and appealing. GM has so often mistaken glitz for elegance. Hey, they relaxed into it this time. Ah-h-h.

Oh, the space. Useful, accessible. A long slightly sloping but one plane storage area could sleep a small family. With maybe a pony. This is one commodious vehicle. And if that is what you need there is no reason it cannot also be elegant, LED-lighted, comfortable, eye-catching and thoughtful. It is.

adjustable pedals

Driving it I found to be pleasurable as well. I like big cars that drive small. The Slade steering is easy and precise. And guess what? There’s a button to adjust pedal altitude to fit the driver. Like a big rig has. (Though I’d like a little more height on the seat adjustment.)

There are detailed driving impressions on car test sites for you to pore over. Go pore. Or better yet go try on an Escalade. If your life has a lot of dogs and kids and stuff that requires lugging in it they’ve been thinking about you at Cadillac.

I spent some more time after a short drive just feeling and looking and admiring. As I took a last three-quarters stare at the Cadillac Escalade’s long, black presence in my dimming driveway a long-ago story popped to mind. I laughed. Said softly: “Ah seen it.” And went in the house.

Share:

twitter facebook digg linkedin myspace delicious mixx newsvine posterous stumbleupon technorati tumblr MORE...

Comments (4)

  1. Keith Carlson:
    Oct 03, 2014 at 08:36 AM

    Once again, dear and charming lady, you bring joy in unexpected ways, creative phrasings and unique referents. Thank you again and plaudits for your writing and your refreshing freedom from pc on your PC.

  2. Rich Witt:
    Oct 03, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Good story, but where the heck can I get the root beer?

  3. Denise McCluggage:
    Oct 03, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    Way 2 Cool is still available in Santa Fe but now that Ribeye is no longer hand-making it lacks that quick evidence of supiority. Madagascar vanilla costs a lot more now. Maybe too much. It was such good stuff in those days.

  4. Alfred Jensen:
    Nov 08, 2014 at 05:36 AM

    We have 185,000 miles on a 04 ESV and the only difficulty we have is determining when we need to bite the bullet for a new one. Brake lines failed recently with out a recall from GM, perhaps we're close.


This thread has been closed from taking new comments.