My father had two sisters, one older and the other younger. Min, the oldest, had four children — Henry, Willie, Harold, and Loretta. (I know this is starting to sound like a recitation from the Bible: “And Seth begot Enosh and Enosh begot Kenan, and Kenan begot Mahalalel, and on and on.”) My Aunt Min moved from Newark to Los Angeles in 1946. I didn’t know her well (I was only five when she moved and I never saw her again). Her son Henry stayed on the East Coast and lived in Lake Hopatcong, NJ (I always loved that name because it sounds so exotic). Willie, Harold, and Loretta were on the West Coast and I never met or saw Willie and Harold. I just heard their names, always spoken together as if they were one person. Both were equally inconspicuous and unknown to me.

More… “Route Worst”

Bruce Eisenstein is the Arthur J. Rowland Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University. He received the BSEE from MIT, MSEE from Drexel, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has done post-doctoral work at Princeton University and Stanford University.



So there we are en route, it’s closing in on 1 p.m., and we’re hungry.

“Let’s eat at the next rest stop,” says my husband. “I could really go for a Nathan’s hot dog or an Arby’s roast beef sandwich or maybe a Whopper with Cheese.”

His reference to these items reflects his familiarity with the culinary landscape of the New Jersey Turnpike. Depending on the rest stop, a traveler can choose from among one of two unholy trinities: Nathan’s, Burger King, and Sbarro pizza, or KFC, McDonald’s, and Arby’s. These franchises have, I presume, engaged in some high level fast food negotiation so as to divide the Turnpike turf between them. My husband’s palate happens to have a chameleon-like versatility. If we were in Paris, he would go for moules frites or sole meuniere, but given that… More…

My last day at NAIAS is the first day the public’s allowed in. Before this, the COBO Center was open only to the press, and then only to people in the industry (or anyone willing to spend $75, instead of $12, to get in). But through next Sunday, several hundred thousand people will stream through — men in car-brand shirts and hats, women with books that they’ll read in the food court.

Auto shows excite the kind of people who are willing to put out money for what amounts to a walk-through commercial. They grab the large, glossy bags manufactures give out for free; they sometimes grab… More…

Friday is the only day in a two-week span when there’s no news coming out of NAIAS, except for the fact that the Barenaked Ladies are playing the $400-a-head Charity Preview (which — let’s be honest — would only be news if this were 1998).

But the dearth of auto show happenings is welcome. The day between the end of the industry preview and the start of the public show is the perfect time to explore The Automobile outside the confines of the COBO Center’s concrete walls.

In the quest to better understand the American car, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour in nearby Dearborn seems as good… More…