Monster trucks

February 19, 1996|By Andrei Codrescu

NEW ORLEANS -- Vrrr! Vrrr! First the Midnight Maniac went up against King Krunch and they squashed 12 cars between them! Then it was the Reptoid versus the Monster Patrol and those 12 cars got it again! Crunch! Smash! Vrrr! The Monster Patrol had a big blue light flashing on top, promoting either love or hate of the police.

Yes, it was the U.S. Hot Rod Grand Slam of Motorsports and I went to it with my earplugs and my friend Chris and a feeling that I was really exploring my American citizenship now. In addition to monster trucks, the Slam featured motorcycle races, BMX-bike leaps and, above all, the Robosaurus, described as ''six stories of Pain, and he's not happy.''

The Robosaurus, a fire-breathing, mechanical mangler ate a whole Yugo before the delirious crowd of 60,000, mostly children. It was a beautiful instant of patriotism with the whole crowd standing as the nasty little Yugo got his just deserts.

''The South! The South!''

Nor was Yugo-eating the only instance of raised political consciousness. Two of the racing motorcycle teams represented, respectively, the North and the South. ''Who do you wanna win?'' shouted the announcer, and got, ''The South! The South!'' Still, this being New Orleans, the yelling wasn't as great as it might have been in, let's say, South Carolina or Georgia. The North won, but only at first, in the qualifying rounds, because at the real showdown, the South rose again and victory was ours.

The Rough Trucks contest between Ford and Chevy didn't garner much excitement. It was like a contest between McDonald's and Burger King. Still it was a really great moment for Christy, who saw her name in lights over the arena: ''Christy, will you marry me?'' I don't know if Christy said yes, but it must have been grand being proposed to at the crucial showdown between a fishtailing Chevy truck and a triumphant smoke-spewing Ford.

Nor was Christy the only one celebrating: A gaggle of black-tied young attorneys was drinking champagne in a suite over the heads of the hoi-polloi. They call themselves The Flatliner Club, and every year they come to this festival of the lower classes and drink to the health of the Republic.

And speaking of health, right when the Reptoid wiped out the Monster Patrol, the announcer warned us sternly: ''There is no way you can be a Monster Car driver, a car smasher or a BMX jumper if you do drugs. Don't do drugs! Just say no and smash cars!'' That's good because my first impression was that only drugs can make people do such things. Pass the Yugo, will you?

Andrei Codrescu edits Exquisite Corpse: a Journal of Life and Letters.

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