Prince is dead

The greatest musician of my lifetime is dead. Prince Rogers Nelson was 57 when he was reported dead today at his home at Paisley Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I really don’t know what to say but I feel like I’ve got to say something because Prince has been the single biggest musical influence in my life.

I didn’t notice the whole Purple Rain thing when it happened. I was a teenage headbanger at the time and some funny-looking fairy with frilly shirts didn’t exactly do it for me. How young and stupid was I?

I was a little older when Prince recorded the soundtrack for Tim Burton’s first Batman film and it was the guitar solo on Batdance that made me sit up and take notice. I’d dismissed Prince as just another theatrical type in a decade full of dressed up ninnies but the Batman soundtrack changed everything.

The Kid could play. The Kid could do anything.

1992_lovesymbol_front_sleeveThe next Prince album to cross my radar was the ‘Love Symbol’ album. While the Batman soundtrack earned my respect, the Love Symbol album earned my devotion.

I was heavily involved with a church group back in the early 1990’s and we put on a concert as part of a local community festival. We even flew in a popular gospel singer from Adelaide for the occasion and it was my job to drive him around for the weekend (and play bass in his band). He was a bit of a big shot on the Australian gospel music scene at the time so I couldn’t hide my embarrassment when he first got into the car and Sexy MF started blaring out of my stereo as I turned the key. I couldn’t hide my surprise or my joy when he said he loved it. We had the album on in the car the whole weekend.

There have been so many great Prince albums and countless hit songs. My all-time favourite is The Beautiful Ones but I could put together a playlist that’d go well over 24 hours full of nothing other than great music written and performed by Prince. He was that prolific.

Many people think they know Prince’s music but most have barely scratched the surface. Hell, I have every album he ever released and I’ve barely scratched the surface. There are Prince songs in my iTunes library that I’ve never heard because I get so caught up in the ones I already love.

That’s OK, though. It’s more for later.

If you want to see a moving dedication to Prince, watch Alicia Keys’ speech to induct him into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame (3 minutes). It’s a bit cheesy at the start and I’m not convinced she was completely in control of her synapses that night, but it still gives me the shivers.

Wouldn’t it be good if we were all so consumed by something that we simply had to do it every day? Especially if it’s something that brings joy to others the way music does?

For Prince, and for so many others, music is like an extension of their consciousness. A guitar wasn’t simply an instrument in the hands of someone like Prince. Or Eric Clapton. Or Jimi Hendrix. Or Stevie Ray Vaughn. The guitar became an extension of their body. Playing was/is as natural to them as breathing – and probably just as essential.

Everyone should be good at something. Everyone should have some sort of passion and the chance to accomplish things in their chosen field. It doesn’t have to be something that brings fame the way music can, but something that brings happiness to the people around you. Surely that’s the greatest gift one can give to another person – happiness.

I wish it was as easy for the rest of us to bring joy to people as it was for Prince.

A few things I’ve been inspired by in my 27 years listening to Prince’s music…..

Excellence

Despite the dreams writ above, few of us will ever be as excellent at anything as Prince was at music. There are people out there who are just crazy-good in their chosen field. Prince was the consummate professional. He was proficient at every instrument he put his hand to. Few of us will ever get there, but excellence is something worth striving for.

Confidence

Be yourself. Be your best self. Be happy with your best self. Believe in your best self. Wear weird clothes if that’s what you want to do. Sing falsetto if that’s what gets the job done. Your true self is the light that will draw people in. Own it.

Courage

Prince wrote songs that he knew would ruffle feathers. He wrote them anyway. It’s easy to be cynical and say he wrote them precisely because he wanted to ruffle feathers. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? I don’t agree with that. I choose to believe that everything he wrote was an honest reflection of his life at the time and the willingness to put that all out there involves a good dose of courage. You might shock. You might offend. But that’s reality being real.

And as an aside, Prince was a guy who had a 40 year music career through some pretty turbulent times. It should be noted that he was never involved in a sex scandal and never had any sort of drug or alcohol-induced incidents. He never made the papers for anything aside from his music.

Core

What’s at the heart of what you do?

If you’re a musician, it’s playing music. Prince was both a songwriter and a musician so writing and performing live were both at the core of his being. It’s always been interesting to me that Purple Rain was a film full of terrible acting but it’s got some of the most electrifying musical performances you’ll ever see. The music IS the movie.

Prince was a live performer without peer. He’d often do a three-hour stadium concert followed by a three-hour club show at a small venue in whatever city his band happened to be playing in at the time. Those club gigs were legendary and I soooo wish I had the chance to see one.

You want to see a man in his element? Check out this performance of Mutiny by Prince and the NPG on the Arsenio Hall show back in 2014. This clip shows (almost) everything that I love about Prince – a great song, brilliant vocals and an amazing, amazing backing band. The only element missing is Prince’s prodigious guitar playing.

I dare you listen to this without your toes tapping by the end….

My Top 10 all time Prince jams

The Beautiful Ones
The Exodus Has Begun
Prettyman
Baby I’m a Star
Kiss
7
The Morning Papers
Sexy MF
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Mix)
Mr Goodnight
I Wanna Be Your Lover
Pink Cashmere
Adore
Violet The Organ Grinder
I Wish You Heaven
Partyman
Little Red Corvette
Supercute
Pheromone
Days of Wild
Count The Days
Now
Thunder
Joint to Joint
My Name is Prince
The Holy River
Anotherloverholeinyourhead
Mountains
Saviour
Slave
Joy in Repetition
1000 X’s and O’s
Stare
D.M.S.R.
Raspberry Beret
Gett Off
Musicology
3121
Let’s Go Crazy
Beggin’ Woman Blues
Boom
Annastesia
I Wish U Heaven
Push It Up
Love 2 The 9’s
The Sacrifice of Victor
The Continental
Chelsea Rodgers
The Greatest Romance Ever Sold
Get On The Boat
Starfish and Coffee
Darling Nikki
When Doves Cry
The Latest Fashion
Batdance
1999

A top 10 was never going to be enough, was it?

I’m not trying to canonise Prince here.

I know it’s a bit strange to take life lessons from an eccentric musician and I’m not suggesting anyone should. I don’t base my life around the man or his music but I have always taken inspiration and joy from his work. The man was something special. He was rare.

His death came far too soon.

A Little Bliss

I often stand at the window of my sixth floor apartment with a cigarette and watch the people in the town square below. The reason for being there is the cigarette. The people-watching is just a fortunate byproduct. I like people more when I don’t have to interact with them or think about their acceptance.

I’ve seen people moving into the public toilet to sleep for the night. The disabled stall is the one to go for. It’s bigger. Last night I heard a sound like running water and eventually noticed the silhouette of a girl squatting in the shadows to pee. The public toilet was only 30 meters away (and unoccupied) but maybe she didn’t realise.

I see old men taking in the sun on the garden seats – sometimes for hours at a time. I see the young gather at night in their souped up Volvos and BMWs, gathering like a pack of wolves ready for the night’s hunt. I see toddlers play while parents check their phones.

A few days ago there were two young girls hanging around the parallel bars in the play area. They couldn’t have been any more than 9 or 10 years old. They were just fooling around and laughing until one of them broke into a song.

Their movements changed as they sang together. I don’t know what they were singing but it was obviously something they knew well. Oblivious to their surroundings, they started singing in unison loud enough to be heard six floors up. They were facing each other, dancing a routine they must have practiced a hundred times or more.

The routine ended in a hug. It wasn’t one of those lean-in-shoulders-touching hugs that friends give one another on the street. It was the type of full-bodied hug a 2-year-old would give to a parent in a moment of happy affection; unguarded, untainted, unaffected, pure. A complete hug. A little piece of bliss.

I don’t know if it was part of the routine or the natural conclusion of two best friends sharing a moment when they were as-one.

I stood there, smiled, and hoped for the latter.

I have no idea if they’ll remember that moment in the future. Was it the pure happiness that it looked like from above? What did they feel in that moment? Will they find that memory when they need it in the next 10, 20, 50 years?

And do those of us who have lost the freedom of youth get to experience that sort of unconscious joy ever again?

A quick look at the Geneva Motor Show

The Geneva Motor Show is done and dusted for 2016. It was my second Geneva show, having first attended there as a ‘civilian’ in 2011, just before going to work for Saab Automobile. This time I was there as an employee of Koenigsegg Automotive AB. How times change.

Opinions here are my own, of course.

It was busy, as you might expect. I barely had any time to post things online as I was so busy talking to people from the press. It’s great to meet the press and it’s productive in the sense of relationships and setting future appointments for them to come and report on our company. But it also drains your productivity in terms of actually producing content.

And having a look around at everything else? Forget it. The photos you’re about to see of things-that-are-not-Koenigseggs were all taken in one 20 minute sprint around the show before I had to walk to the airport (next door) to fly back to Sweden.

First, the Koenigsegg stand.

It reminded me a lot of the Saab stands of old, to be honest. Very Scandi. Very white, with Koenigsegg highlights in copper. Uncluttered. Tasteful. All credit for this goes to Lisa, our Art Director, who worked her butt off to get the right look. It paid off in spades. The simplicity of the stand allowed our cars to shine. And boy, did they shine!

The Regera on show was our production spec car, painted in Candy Apple Red with a brave leather and cloth interior. It was arguably the star of the whole Geneva show in terms of the substance of reports. The Chiron took the award for the sheer volume of reports, which was to be expected, but we didn’t lose any respect at all with the tone of the reportage about the Regera.

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Car #2 was a car called the “One of 1”. It’s the first of a series of three vehicles to be built that will make up the last of the Agera series of cars. These cars will have no options list. Everything is available. They will also have completely unique and bespoke aerodynamic treatments. The aero you see on this car will only be used for this car. The next car in the ‘Final’ series will have different aero, which will be determined by the customer in conjunction with our engineers.

The paint on this car doesn’t shine as it should under show lights. Get this car in the daylight on a sunny day and the yellow undertones shine through and it looks like a fireball. It might just be my favourite Koenigsegg so far.

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The interior is also a first, being our first polished aluminium finish.

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Our third and final car was an Agera RS in bright yellow with red accents. The owner of the car saw it complete for the first time at the show and he was over the moon. He was taking photos of it on the stand for two full days. It was very rewarding to see the joy on his face and he’s a super-nice guy, to boot. He’s a multiple supercar owner so seeing his excitement over his Agera RS was very gratifying for us.

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The interior of the Agera ML – named using the owner’s initials – features yellow piping on the seats and black buttons on the control centre. Christian even autographed the carbon dashboard with a gold pen.

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Our three cars. Strong, clean and super fast.

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Porsche

This is the Porsche stand. Note that of the 12 cars Porsche had on display, 5 were SUVs or sedans. Nothing stays the same.

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This is the car that had EVERYONE talking: the Porsche 911 R.

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Why? Well……

It’s got a traditional 911 rear-engined layout with a 500hp flat six from the GT3 RS. It’s 110lbs lighter than the GT3 RS thanks to some carbon fibre panels and a magnesium roof. Those things are nice, but the big difference is in the number of pedals on the floor. Super hi-po Porsches haven’t come with a manual gearbox for years. They’ve all got the super-quick PDK automatic transmission. The 911 R changes all that.

A high spec Porsche with a stick shift? No wonder all 991 units are already spoken for.

Below is my personal favourite from the Porsche stand – the Cayman GT4. What a car! I’ll take mine in dark blue, thanks.

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A question to ponder – is Porsche in a state of denial over the Cayman? The 911 is the daddy because of 50 years of history but the Cayman lends itself to much better handling by default because of its mid-engined layout.

Put it this way – if Porsche went all-out on a Cayman, would it be a better car to drive than an all-out 911? I suspect so. And if that’s the case, Porsche is in denial.

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Porsche’s only splash of colour on the stand came courtesy of the newly-renamed 718 Boxster, above. The new mid-engined Porsche ragtops are notable for being the first Porsches since the 914 to use a flat-4 engine and the first Porsches ever to use a turbocharged flat-4 engine.

Who’d have thought this turbocharging thing would ever take off?

Bugatti

As mentioned above, the new Bugatti Chiron was always going to be the big news of this year’s Geneva show. And it was. 500 will be made and I think I’ve read some pundits saying that they’re all sold, which is ….. interesting.

The styling down the side of the car is very nice. I’m not so sure about the rear and the front doesn’t really feel like anything new. I got into the Bugatti stand and managed to snap off these two photos, but that’s all.

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The interior looked a little simple to me. I didn’t get into the car but I’m told by people who did that the interior execution is amazing. Yes, I was told this by people I work with (names withheld) but let’s just say we’re all in a position to care about the fact that we lift an already good level of execution to meet even higher standards.

By all reports, the Bugattis are amazing cars to drive. They’re obviously a great feat of engineering. Well done.

Spyker

How good was it to see Spyker back with a new car this year???

This is the C8 Preliator. It features the same Audi V8 from previous Spykers but this time it’s supercharged.

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The interior will be familiar to all Spyker fans with quilted leather, polished aluminium and the famous exposed gear linkage.

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Victor plans to build 50 of these new models and he took more than 20 orders during the Geneva show. The car is on its way to the New York Auto Show now, where he hopes to sell the rest. I hope he succeeds.

The world doesn’t need another generic car company but it could do with a few more Spykers.

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Victor actually spent an hour or so at the Koenigsegg stand and it was a real pleasure to catch up with him. He’s as supercharged as ever, just like the Preliator, and super-happy to be back making cars again.

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Lamborghini

Lambo released the ‘Centenario’ – a limited edition to mark Ferrucio Lamborghini’s 100th birthday. It’s got the usual madness-on-steroids design that we all love Lambo for and much was made of the exposed carbon fibre body, mostly because it’s Lamborghini’s first time doing this. Well done, Lamborghini.

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Well, almost.

I’ve googled around and nobody’s commented on the rather obvious flaw in the carbon. Can you see it? It’s just visible in one of these photos. The press corps mostly uses the photos that companies send them and I doubt the flaw is visible in those, but it’s visible on the real car. Just. If you enlarge the pic and look in just the right spot……

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Pagani

Pagani were directly opposite the Koenigsegg stand (along with Bugatti). Hypercar Row, we should call it.

Pagani’s big story was the Hyuara BC, a lightened edition created in memory of Horacio Pagani’s good friend and first ever customer, Benny Caiola.

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Touring Superleggera

Italian coachbuilder Superleggera stunned everyone with the Disco Volante coupe a few years ago. This year it was the Spyder’s turn.

Magnifico!

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It’s Superleggera’s 90th anniversary this year and the Spyder was created to celebrate the milestone. It was designed in consultation with Alfa Romeo and is built from hand-formed aluminium on an Alfa Romeo 8C rolling chassis.

Seven of them will be made. Oh, to be one of those seven lucky people.

Honda NSX

After a decade or so wandering in a wilderness populated by sensible cars, Honda is trying to rediscover its mojo as a Japanese performance cult-car company.

The original NSX was a jaw dropper because it was sooooo different to anything the company had made before it. And it was so good. And Ayrton Senna.

Have they managed the same trick with the new NSX? I think the jury’s still out. It looks good, for sure, but it doesn’t look as radically different as the original car. It’ll all come down to what’s underneath, I guess.

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Mazda

So much has been made of the new MX-5 that I had to stop and take a quick look.

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A quick look was all I managed, though, because when I got to the Mazda stand I was instantly smitten with Mazda’s RX Vision concept car.

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The car made its global debut last year at the Tokyo Motor Show but I’m well pleased they decided to bring it to Geneva. It is pure automotive pornography (OK, aside from that distracting rear ‘spoiler’ and the faux carbon wheels)

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The spin says that Mazda are still looking at developing a rotary engine that can work in an emissions- and economy-conscious time and that the RX Vision is a car that’s intended to highlight both Mazda’s interest in a rotary of the future, as well as being a design statement for Mazda’s future looks. I think it has more to do with the latter than the former, but that’s just me.

Spin it however you like, Mazda. What you’ve built is truly beautiful. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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OK, I’d remove that rear spoiler. But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Aston Martin

Martini drinking Bond wannabes would have been gushing at the Aston Martin stand this year as the company released the new DB11.

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Martin. Aston Martin.

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As an aside, one of the DB10s used in the latest Bond film, Spectre – and the only DB10 actually running – was sold at auction in London while the Geneva Motor Show was happening.

Rimac

It was interesting to see Rimac at Geneva. Their Concept One sports car looks absolutely fantastic.

Rimac are one of Koenigsegg’s partners in the development of the Regera’s powertrain so they know their electric stuff.

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Maserati

Good manners dictate that if you can’t say anything nice about someone (or something) then you shouldn’t say anything at all.

Witness my stone cold silence, then, as I show you these images of the latest sellout to SUV conventionalism, the Maserati Levante.

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Ferrari

They’re now calling this the GTC4 Lusso.

FFS Ferrari, FF is easier to remember.

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The Ferrari stand, for those who are interested.

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Fiat

The Fiat stand was a bit more interesting than the Fezza stand, to be honest. The reason? The new Fiat 124 Spider!

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If you think it looks familiar, that’s probably because of its Mazda MX-5 roots. This is the car that the Italians designed along with Mazda. It was originally going to be a new Alfa Romeo Spider but the powers-that-be decided Alfa had to go more upmarket, so it became a Fiat Spider instead.

And it works. It’s quite cute and it received a lot of attention. Its proportions are obviously the same as the MX-5 but it looks distinctly Fiat. If it drives like the MX-5 then they’re on to a winner.

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And speak of the devil…..

Alfa Romeo

Readers of this site know that Alfa Romeo is one of my favourite car companies. I’ve owned a bunch of them and I’m very interested in the company’s future. That future rests on a knife-edge at the moment as Sergio tries to take Alfa into the performance market alongside Maserati, Porsche, etc.

It’s a big gamble. The first shot was the luscious but slightly hamstrung 8C. Then came the equally luscious but better-received Alfa 4C (shown prominently this year at Geneva).

This year, it was the turn of the new Giulia. There have been rumours (vehemently denied by Alfa) that the Giulia was facing production delays due to safety concerns. Let’s hope they’re all untrue because Alfa needs a hit like Donald Trump needs an audience of braindead rednecks. They die without it.

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The Giulia is more handsome than beautiful. It won’t make your face melt like Alfas past, but that’s not the point with this car. This Alfa needs performance credentials and the early mail says it’s well sorted. Let’s hope so.

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The 4C was also prominent. I like the exposed carbon roof on this white model. Tasty.

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I’ve GOT to get some seat time in one of these. It’s one of the only modern cars on my realistic bucket list.

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RUF

A Porsche 911 used to be on my realistic bucket list, but then The Great Porsche 911 Inflation happened (2013-ongoing). The RUF stand is a good example of all those cars we mere mortals might have been able to afford a few years ago, but are now removed from arm’s reach.

So pretty.

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And finally……

Sow’s Ear, Silk Purse

A Panamera that actually looks good.

And it’s purple!! Mmmmmmmm. There aren’t enough purple cars in the world.

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When I Am King…….

Do you ever wish you could be the world’s benevolent dictator? We’re actually all better off than we think. We’re living longer, we’re more educated, richer and believe it or not, more peaceful as a species than we’ve ever been (thanks to Jeroen for that link).

That’s not to say we’re over the screw-ups, though. That’s not to say we couldn’t all benefit from an omnipotent kick in our collective pants.

I wouldn’t mind getting in on the whole dictator thing and of course, I have a few people and things I’d get out of the way so that we can all get on living in peace and harmony. (Or my version of it, at least, which would be compulsory of course. Being King has its privileges.)

So……. When I am king, these will be first against the metaphorical wall…..

Religious Fundamentalists

I don’t care what religion you are. You’re free to believe and free to practice what you like, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else in that religion’s name.

We were chosen by God!
We were chosen by God!
For centuries, civilisations that sprang up around the place had a couple of basic things in common. One of them was a localised belief system that sought something outside of their own humanity to give them purpose in this life and keep them preserved after death. Many had gods in nature, worshipping the sun, the moon or the stars. Some made sacrifices to keep their god(s) happy, fearing for both their present and their future if they didn’t.

The desire to hope for something else after we’re gone is not unusual. Whether it be the Romans, the Greeks, the Norsemen, the Aztecs, the Moors or the Whoeverelses, they all did it, most of them developed their beliefs independently and they all thought they were 100% correct. Amazing, isn’t it?

If you feel the need to fill your god-shaped hole with a god, that’s fine. Please feel free to fill that space however you like. Talk to your friends about it, if you wish. Gather with like minded people and enjoy it together. Whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or Pastafarian, it doesn’t matter to me.

Just don’t push it down anyone’s throat and do not commit violence in the name of your religion.

The law of Swade will subject you to a year of being tickled, non-stop.

Doof Doof music

One of the things I’ve learned while living in Sweden is that there hasn’t been a song written through all of history that can’t be re-jigged and set to shitty doof-doof dance music. They love it here.

Hey, baby.
Hey, baby.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something and that might – might – be true of learning a musical instrument. I suspect it takes longer for most. I still marvel at those guitarists for whom an instrument seems to be a natural extension of their body. Those who know what to play and when, and those who (crucially) know when NOT to play.

Music is supposed to be an art form. A thing of true beauty. Its magic lies in a unique skill; an artist’s ability to draw on their emotions, paint pictures with sound and/or words and to generate energy from it. A true artist can capture both pleasure and pain and balance them on the head of a pin. They can fire you up for a fight or inspire you to fall in love. The soundtracks of our lives are based in sensory expression, which is why music is one of the emotional triggers that sticks so well in our memory.

Doof doof might do it for you but it doesn’t do anything for me. And I’m King here, remember.

OK, so there is artistry in true showmanship, in engaging a crowd and bringing them along with you. There are enough people going to big dance venues and having a good time listening to the stuff to suggest that some of the best doof doof DJ’s obviously have something. But it’s not for me. And let’s face it, there’s a reason all these festival goers are popping pills, right?

Doof Doof adherents will be beaten lightly with a Gibson Les Paul, then forced to listen to actual rock-n-roll for 2 years. Call it gentle re-education.

The guy in the photo is actually a work colleague who I love dearly and is an in-demand DJ here in Sweden. I love this picture. I wish I could tamper with his playlist, though 🙂

Tony Abbott’s Political Career

If you’re reading this and thinking “Who is Tony Abbott?”, count yourself as one of the lucky ones and move on.

Say goodbye, Tony.  There's a good lad.
Say goodbye, Tony. There’s a good lad.
Our former Prime Minister is a fool and Australia is better off without him. He should now be confined to a post-political career of letter writing and ribbon cutting but sadly, it looks as if he’s going to stand for parliament again in 2016. Some say he still has designs on the leadership.

One of the defining characteristics of a cult is the steadfast belief that their way is the only way. Tony Abbott is his own cult. He truly believes that he is the saviour of conservatism, that it doesn’t stand a chance without him. Sadly, there are enough blue-rinsers out there willing to write him emails and egg him on.

Perhaps Australia should be thankful that Abbott had his chance at the top job. It was embarrassing, soul-destroying and the source of multiple double facepalms, but it only lasted a short time and we can, and will, recover. The people got to see what a prejudiced, bigoted, selfish, fear-mongering, privileged, entitled, misogynistic, backwards government looked like without getting too messed up. Now we know. Now we can move on.

This boil needs to be lanced, however, and King Swade is up for the job. Tony Abbott will be sentenced to five years of ironing Anthony Albanese’s shirts in the basement of old parliament house, while listening to the ABC 24/7.

Donald Trump’s Presidential Bid

Do I even need to explain this one? No, I don’t.

Breaking wind....
Breaking wind….
Donald Trump says what he thinks and a lot of people are buying into that. Some are buying into it because they want to give the Republican establishment a bit of a shake. Some are buying into it because they’re genuinely dull xenophobes and habitual cheerleaders.

The problem, of course, is that this is a Presidential bid with real consequences. The winner will be in charge of one of the most important countries in the world, with nuclear codes and stuff. It’s not reality TV. There has to be a point where it turns from entertainment to serious business. A nominee actually has to have well thought-out policies and a strategy for communication that brings out the verbal sledge hammer only when absolutely necessary.

There are 194 countries in the world that are not the United States. If you really want to be seen as a world-leading country, elect a man who is worthy of the title to run the place. Donald Trump is a performer. A clown. A blustering windbag who is preying on fear. What’s worse is that his inflammatory statements steal all the oxygen from people who could actually be responsible and presentable Presidential candidates. The people of the United States need to hear from these candidates.

Sentence: Donald J Trump will do 10 years hard labour giving piggyback rides over the border to Mexican immigrants.

Continued Stupidity in Classic Car Prices

The Porsche 911, just a few years ago, was the car that most keen drivers could aspire to with some realistic hope of actually buying one. Yes, the old ones were about the price of a new family sedan but that was reasonable. It meant that the serious helmsmith had a choice to make and in making that choice, they would forego the sensible nature of the modern sedan. Their reward – a wonderful driving experience to offset the shouty stuff coming from the other side of the bed.

Acceptable collecting
Acceptable collecting

Thanks to a recovering world economy (what GFC?!), there’s a bunch of cashed-up tossers in the classic car market and they’re being egged on by the belief that their cars will continue to rise at 50% a year like 911 prices have for the last two or three years. It has to stop.

Classic cars are for the people have paid their dues, done their time and had these cars in their hearts since they were a little kid. They’re for the people who LOVE TO DRIVE, not for some Johnny-come-lately who scored some stock options or a profit share and is looking to, quite literally, park their money in a good investment.

Anyone buying a classic car without having owned a series of worthy, aspirational sub-classics (including at least one Alfa Romeo) will be made to drive a 1993 Toyota Camry. Forever.

Stu, you get a pass as you’ve already done your penance 🙂

Debate over Gun Control

Jim Jeffries can take this issue, in two parts.

Warning – there is a LOT of foul language in these two videos. A lot of good argument, too, and it’s all very, very funny. But again, a LOT of foul language.

Persistent gun control advocates will also be sentenced to a year’s tickling. If you’re a religious fundamentalist who also loves guns and you’re unwilling to tighten up gun control laws, you get double the tickles.

Laughter is the best medicine.

Hawthorn Football Club

Hawthorn has won 12 of their 13 AFL premierships in my lifetime. That’s nearly one every four years, on average.

I’m pleased to have been such a good luck charm for somebody, but……. give it a rest, Hawks. Seriously.

The penalty: every Hawthorn premiership since the 1980’s is erased and links to all Hawthorn highlights online divert to this:

Debate over Climate Change

One of the interesting sideshows during Australia’s recent political history was the fiscal argument about ‘inter-generational theft’. Those on the right were arguing that because those on the left are soooooooo financially irresponsible, the country would be leaving more and more debt that our kids and grandkids would have to pay. That might be a fair call, too, if those on the right hadn’t made the national debt so much worse since taking office, but I digress…..

There was no call from the right for any sort of real, actual solution to this most egregious problem. No-one asked for people to put their hands in their pockets and make a one-off contribution at X-dollars per head in order to save our kids from this burden. Why? Because it’s the accusation that wins votes, not the solution. All people have to do is agree with you and you’re golden.

Discuss, people!  Discus!
Discuss, people! Discus!
Climate change is somewhat different but just as polarising for some. This, despite the evidence being so clear and the scientific community being as close to agreement as it can responsibly be.

And yet you still get people making arguments against taking action. Most of the arguments are economic: We can’t afford to change. It’ll put us at a competitive disadvantage. Blah Blah Blah. We can’t afford to NOT change direction on this and thankfully, it looks like the world is coming together.

Why not look at it as a long-term economic opportunity? That’s exactly what it is, after all. The only difference is that it involves investments that may not see a pay-off in time for you to go to Tahiti any time soon. Clean energy and increased efficiency are keys to the future. It’s just that they’re most likely keys to someone else’s future, not yours.

If we want to talk about inter-generational theft, by the way, climate change is about as bad as it gets. Debts can be repaid in relatively short time if we all put our mind to it. A wrecked environment could take generations to recover, if it ever does. Extinction is permanent.

Climate deniers will spend an hour each day in a small pool with the water just 1mm below their nostrils (with head extended up/back). They then have to hope it doesn’t rain. Rescuers will be on standby and will assist if they deem it to be fiscally responsible to do so.

Peak Porsche?

I read a story on Petrolicious a few weeks ago that piqued my interest. It asked whether we’ve reached ‘Peak Porsche’ yet – a question to which there is no certain answer but one would have to hope that the silliness will end some time soon.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Porsche 911 is a rare and truly worthy recipient of the over-used ‘icon’ label. It has endured. No matter which model you talk about over the car’s 50+ year history, the 911 has always been elegant, reliable and in the top quartile of the performance scale for it’s generation. And that’s probably being a bit harsh.

So was it really under-valued for so long or have things gone a bit nuts over the last 3 years?

I’m really not sure, but here’s some of my personal experience.

Back in 2013 I sold my Alfa Romeo GTV6 and I was looking around for a fun car to replace it. I eventually bought my 968 Clubsport for $30,000 and that amount of money was a stretch for me. I briefly considered buying an air-cooled 911 at the time and believe it or not, I could have got one for that money. It would have most likely been an import, a less desirable 2.7 from the 1970’s or something in need of significant repair (see my vehicle value maxim) but it was possible.

The one that caught my eye the most was a UK-Import known as a Carrera Super Sport. It was for sale for $45,000 here in Australia at the time (2013).

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So that was then. This is now.

The cheapest 911 in Australia right now that isn’t a) a 996, or b) a cabriolet, is a 1978 3.0 911SC going for $59,000 and it’s a UK car rather than Australian delivered. This would have been a $30,000 car back in 2013, without doubt.

The prices rise quickly from there, too.

The 2.7 model that preceded the SC used to sell for even less given that it’s perceived to be a weaker engine. It was the least desirable model back when I was looking around, regularly available in the mid-$20K range. The cheapest one I’ve found on carsales today is selling for $79,990 at a dealership in Victoria.

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Then there’s the 1971 2.2 Targa that was originally Viper Green and LHD and is now Guards Red and RHD. This would have been a $20-25K car back in 2013. Not only is it a targa (go ahead, ask a purist) but RHD conversions were some of the lowest value cars back then. This one’s now offered for sale at $80,000.

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Of course, there are a lot of people speculating on the Porsche they bought 5 years ago. They see the prices going nuts and they want a piece of that action. Prices have been going particularly loco on Porsches up to 1974, which is why this buyer has the temerity to ask a price that would have had people rolling in the aisles just a few short years ago.

If you don’t get it, you’re not the only one. Yes, Porsches were probably under-valued for a few years prior to the recovery from the global financial crisis. You have to bear in mind, however, that there are so many 911’s on the road. These cars were made in big numbers and they’re very reliable, meaning there are still a lot of them around compared to other high-end sports cars.

I can certainly understand them going up in price over the last few years, but I’m not sure I understand them going up by this much.

Is it a Petrolicious effect? Is it a Magnus Walker effect? Is it simply that people are placing a premium on having an air-cooled Porsche experience?

Whatever it is, the 911 is now well and truly out of my price range, which makes me a little bit sad. I’m going to keep myself as debt-free as possible so that I can take advantage the next time that prices bottom out.

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The 968CS I bought?

968’s are currently selling for between $24,000 and $39,500 but none of those are ClubSports and my guess is that none of them are going to sell quickly. That was always an issue with the 968. It’s an incredible car but few people really know about them and fewer still want to spend their hard-earned on one.

I sold mine for the same $30K I’d paid for it and I was happy with that. It might be worth a bit more now, but it hasn’t kept anywhere near pace with the growth in the 911.

I probably should have stretched myself for that Super Sport.

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And for what it’s worth, if I was looking for something right now…..

This BMW M Coupe just sold for US$15,500 at auction on Bring-a-Trailer. You won’t get one for that price in Australia (or Sweden) but it seems like a very good way to spend some fun-car money.

I’ve never been a big BMW fan but I do love me a clown shoe.

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Support Jim’s Cancer Ride – Please

It’s that time of year again, when I invite you to support a Saab friend has he rides his bike to raise money for cancer research.

DSC_0387 (2)Right: Keeping calm and carrying on.

This is Jim’s 5th time riding the Pan-Mass Challenge and that’s significant. Not only is it his second year riding cancer-free, it’s the first time he’ll have more Pan-Mass challenges under his belt than cancer treatments.

Jim’s a four-time cancer survivor, which is why this chance for him to give back is so important. It’s become important to me to support a mate, too. Either Saabs United or Swadeology has raised money four of those five rides. The only one I missed was the one where I didn’t have an active website.

Jim’s participation in this event has been an unqualified success. He’s raised nearly $45,000 for the Dana Farber Cancer Center and over the course of the Pan Mass Challenge, the event has raised nearly half a billion-with-a-B dollars.

A cure for cancer is the ultimate goal, but Jim himself is proof positive that even without a cure, effective treatment extends and enriches the lives of thousands of patients and their families. If you’ve ever been touched by cancer in your family, then you know how important this cause is.

Cancer is an equal-opportunity asshole of a disease. It doesn’t discriminate. It can hurt anyone – rich, poor, young or old. But it CAN be fought. And anything that you can do to help will come back to you in one way or another. Believe me.

I’ve just kicked in my contribution for this year and I sincerely hope you do the same.

You can contribute to Jim’s ride by clicking on this link: Support Jim Coggs

Thanks so much.

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Classics By The Track – Suzuka Circuit

Sooooooo……

One of the great parts about my new job is that I get to attend amazing events sometimes. The first job I did with Koenigsegg was actually a few weeks before I formally started working for them. It was mid-May when I hopped on a plane bound for Japan, to attend the Sounds of Engines event at Japan’s most celebrated racetrack – Suzuka Circuit.

There were a lot of cars on the circuit that weekend, typically they were cars that had some sort of connection to the circuit, such as a race win. There were some winning Formula 1 cars present, for example, and others that didn’t win but had been drive at the circuit in anger.

Then there was the display, with some of the most mouth watering sports cars on the planet, both old and new. Japan might have had minimal economic growth over the last few decades, but there’s still enough to go round and they really know how to look after their cars.

Click to enlarge and (hopefully) enjoy.

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Tjena från Vejbystrand

Hi there. Long time, no write.

If you’re reading this, thanks for hanging around.

All is going well in Sweden. Yes, the job is absolutely fantastic. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do for work and it’s slowly expanding into areas I didn’t expect.

I expected to take photos, for example. I didn’t expect to take so many, nor for them to be so useful. This one’s now one of the slider photos on the Koenigsegg homepage.

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There are lots of other unexpected things, too. Content management. Website layout. And plenty more. It all involves a learning curve but not one so steep as to be a problem.

The bigger learning curve has been in navigating the Swedish bureaucracy.

Just getting here legally was a nail-biting experience in itself. As I’m an Australian (read non-Swede or non-European), I had to get a permit to work here, which took a lot longer than anyone thought. I planned my exit from work in Australia back in March. It was supposed to coincide with the Saab Festival, with the belief that I’d be able to start work at Koenigsegg the day after the Saab Festival finished. I was working on the assumption that the work permit would come in plenty of time, which it most certainly did not.

The advice I received from the Swedish Embassy in Canberra was that I shouldn’t enter Sweden while the decision on my work permit was still being made. On the Monday before the Saab Festival, there was still no decision. Impatient as I am, I booked my flight anyway, crossing all my fingers and toes that it would come before I left.

I had to write to the Swedish migration agency and let them know that I would be entering the country in three days time for the Saab Festival. I was advised that my visit would be OK, but if the decision on my work permit still hadn’t arrived by then, I would have to leave Sweden as soon as the Saab Festival was finished. I made arrangements to flee over the border if need be.

My first night’s accommodation at Swania in Trollhattan was booked for Thursday night. The work permit decision arrived Wednesday morning, which is about as close as you can get.

There have been other red-tape nightmares since then. All of them worked out OK, but it’s frustrating having to work through an unknown process at unknown agencies just to be able to do the simplest things.

Getting the card that goes with the work permit.

Clearing my extra suitcase through Swedish customs when it (finally) arrived via Emirates air freight.

(Here’s a tip for any Aussies coming to Sweden and flying economy with Qantas: one suitcase only. Qantas will charge you $80 per kilo for any extra luggage if you simply arrive at the airport and try to check it in. Lucky I checked this first. Even the cheap option set me back $300 but that’s much better than the $1600 Qantas would have slugged me.)

Getting the all-important Swedish personnumber.

Getting the Swedish ID card that should really be automatic when you get the personnumber, but isn’t. It involves an extra fee and a visit to a bigger Skatteverket office.

Getting a Swedish bank account (relies on the personnumber and if your a working foreigner, proof of your employment).

Getting the aforementioned Swedish ID card so that you can access internet banking. Yes, you need one to do the other.

Buying a car.

Yes, I bought a car and yes, it’s a Saab. I bought a 2003 Saab 9-5 SportCombi in Merlot with a black half-leather interior and 5-speed manual shift. It was previously owned by a former tech at ANA and has been well maintained as a result. I gave the boss a lift home last night and even he commented on how smooth and quiet it is.

I’m also living in a ‘Falun Red’ timber cottage with white trim windows. I look like a regular Svensson now 🙂

There are actually three little accommodation units in that building. Mine is the middle one. It’s tiny but that’s good for me right now. The last thing I need is to feel compelled to buy furniture and fill a place up with it. This little cottage in Vjebystrand Vejbystrand has most of the things I need – it’s cheap, it’s 5 minutes drive from work and about two minutes from this beach 🙂

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The 9-5 is actually intended to be my sensible winter car. I’m looking for affordable vehicle storage nearby and hope to store the 9-5, then pick up something less sensible to drive for the remainder of the summer.

The work?

It’s been a very interesting experience so far. It’s a bit like bringing up a kid in that there’s no instruction book. You think of things, you float ideas and you run with what seems best. There should be more strategy to this but I’m working on that. I think it’ll be my job to write that instruction book and I’m going to seek some expert help from friends along the way.

There have certainly been some exciting experiences so far.

I did my first trip for Koenigsegg before I’d even left my old job in Tasmania. I flew to Japan for an event at Suzuka Circuit, which was a jaw-dropping debut. I put a gallery of images in a previous post but here it is again:

Since then, we’ve done an unofficial record 0-300-0km/h run in the Koenigsegg One:1……

….. and I made it to England to cover Koenigsegg’s presence at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Goodwood was astounding in its size and the access to mouthwatering vehicles that is given to spectators. It’s effectively replaced whatever old-style motor shows there were/are in the UK, too. It is massive.

We have more events and campaigns coming up, too. I’ll be abroad again in a few weeks and several times in the months to come after that, too. And there’s plenty to do when I’m here, not the least of which involves making some new friends, learning a new language and culture.

It’s all going OK so far. There are quiet times, which can get a bit lonely, but they’re more than offset by the work and the amazing things I’m seeing and learning.

I do hope to write here a bit more often now that things are getting settled. Being away from regular Australian news bulletins has given me a new perspective on what’s going on in my homeland and it’s distressing to say the least. But it won’t be all about that.

Thanks for reading. It’s been good to write something familiar again.

Have a great week.

Saab Festival: Kinnekulle

I have one more event from the Saab Festival left to cover – the track day at Kinnekulle.

Kinnekulle was the primary event on the Saturday, the second day of the Saab Festival. Kinnekulle is about 80km away from Trollhattan. It’s a nice easy drive, but one that you want to be committed to if the weather’s looking dubious.

And dubious it was.

So dubious, in fact, that I chose to stay in Trollhattan. The forecast called for a reasonable amount of rain in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. I was jetlagged and doubly tired due to a late nights on Thursday and Friday. Given that I was driving a borrowed car that wasn’t suited to the track, the weather was enough to put me off making the trip.

Others did go, however. One of them was a friend named Thilo Bubek and those who know Thilo, know that he’s almost always got a camera stuck to his face.

Here’s a small sample of Thilo’s work from Kinnekulle. You can view more of Thilo’s work on his website – Bubek Fotodesign. His 2015 Saab Festival photos aren’t up yet, but his Northern Lights photos from Tromso, in Norway, are mind-boggling. He’s also on Facebook.

As you can see, it was pretty moist at Kinnekulle. When I was there in 2007 it was stinking hot and watching the Saab 2-trokes being flung around the corners at high speed in the dry was almost the highlight of the whole festival.

I wonder how they went this time? 🙂

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My New Job

I’ve mentioned the fact the I’ve got a new job a few times on this site. Well, it’s time to spill the beans……

When I was a kid, around 10 years old, I sat an entrance exam for a fancy private school. Well, I say ‘fancy’, it was fancy for a family of our humble means but it was really just a mid-tier private school.

Anyway, I went along to this entrance exam and as adults are prone to doing with young children, they asked me what I want to be when I grow up. As children are prone to do in such situations, I gave an unexpected honest answer – I wanted to be a truck driver!!

Mum came to pick me up after the exam and I told her what had happened. She responded…..

I’M NOT PAYING ALL THAT MONEY TO SEND YOU TO THAT SCHOOL SO YOU CAN BECOME A TRUCK DRIVER!!!

That went well.

So, I did the ‘right’ thing. The expected thing. Eventually. And after a remarkably dull accounting/auditing career I ached for a job that I actually cared about. A job that I could get excited about.

There are two possible jobs that come to mind:

a) Become a puppy – puppies get to eat, sleep and play all day. Everyone loves a puppy. Who wouldn’t want to be a puppy?

b) Write about cars.

Given that science hasn’t advanced to the point where I can become a puppy, I have to go for option b.

I’ve always loved writing and cars are probably the only thing that I can write about with anything resembling an educated manner. I did it as a hobby and that went well enough for me to get a job at Saab, even if that particular opportunity didn’t go well enough to last.

Thankfully, however, I’ve received a second chance. And it’s a very exciting chance, too.

Last weekend I enjoyed the 2015 Saab Festival in Trollhattan. As you read this, I’m now a few hours south of Trollhattan, sitting in an office in Angelholm. Here’s the view outside my window:

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If you know your automotive geography, then you know that Angelholm is the home of Koenigsegg, which is where I’m working from this week forward.

I have to say, working for Saab was pretty much my dream job. Working for Christian von Koenigsegg and his company goes way past dreams. We’re now in the realm of fantasy jobs and I feel extremely fortunate to have this opportunity.

What will I be doing?

I’ll be the native English speaker in the crew and I’ll work alongside the people in marketing, PR and social media. We’ll be doing all sorts of projects, events, press/sales materials, website copy and more, including some ‘Inside’ stories to share a little more about the processes and the people that make up this amazing company.

I’ve already been to Japan to cover an event the company did at Suzuka Circuit and in a few weeks, I’ll be off to cover other events in far-flung parts of Europe and beyond!

It’s a super-exciting opportunity and I feel like the most fortunate car guy on the planet right now.

Come and check things out at Koenigsegg.com and on the Koenigsegg Facebook page.

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Finally, to answer a few questions that I know you’re already thinking of…. 🙂

1) No, I don’t get a company car.

2) Yes, if you’re visiting the area, there’s a chance I can get you a peek inside. Maybe. But check first.

3) No, I can’t get you a ride in one.

4) Yes, the new lenses came in handy. Click to enlarge.