28 May 2005

Mighty Haakon

I spend at least 8 hours a week on the road, scurrying from one freelance job to another: it's a gypsy's life. I ping-pong between Staten Island, NY, where I have a house, and Bethlehem, PA, where I have an apartment, with the occasional ricochet to Bucks County PA and Morristown NJ. And -- I almost forgot -- the Bronx, where I teach a class in Hypertext Theory and Practice at Fordham one night a week.

At highway speed through most of New Jersey, that's close to 500 miles a week, and over the 5 years I've been performing this boogie, I've put some serious mileage on Mighty Haakon the WonderVolvo, a dark blue 1991 240 sedan, maintained by our doughty neighbors Phil and Lee at Island Vo Vo Repair, 3 blocks away at 68 Hannah St. If you drive a Volvo and live anywhere within 100 miles of Staten Island, Island Vo Vo is the place to take your Big Swede next time for a periodical.

The name of the enterprise was Island Volvo for many years, until there was some kind of palace coup at Volvo Corporate, and the suits showed up on Phil's doorstep demanding he change the name, since he wasn't an official dealership. So Phil took out his stepladder, removed the "L" from the sign above the garage doors, and the suits had nothing more to say. There's a great photograph of him in front of the place, cradling the L in his arm, deadpanning the whole thing, as is his way.

I'm not sure how I got into this, but 6 years ago, there were only 60,000 miles on Mighty Haakon, only 50,000 more than when we bought him, used, in 1991. In another couple weeks or so, he'll turn 240,000. When I told my friend John McDaid this, he said, "That's as far as the moon." No other friend of mine would think of that.

When I thanked Phil for making it possible for me to drive to the moon, he said, "Which way you headed now?"


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