Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slow Your Roll There, Billy: In Response to Bill Caswell's "The Death Of BMW’s M Brand", an automotive site loved by auto enthusiasts, is not one known as a bastion of journalistic integrity. Rather, Jalopnik is usually a place where second-rate automotive journalists will write their hearts out about popculture topic A that has little, if anything to do with cars.
Perhaps it was unsavory of me to liken Jalopnik "writers" to be "second-rate," yes. But they have gone on long enough spouting absurdities. The site has no qualms "calling it as they see it." Right. As if it isn't respectful enough to say flat out that Chevy is a brand that "lies." Future journalists, take note what as to what not to do here.

What does Jalopnik stand for then? Everything they produce is done with an air of rebellion, or speaking from the "people's" point of view. They tend to bash large, corporate companies with little dignity or professionalism. Click Here to see what I mean

I'm studying to be a journalist. And while I don't yet have a degree, I know well enough to tell you not to outright disparage a potential business partner in the future. Over time, companies can change. Why chance your relationship with a big company like Bank of America?  Who knows, your next paycheck could be coming from them and now wouldn't it be awfully tragic if they forgot one of your zeros?

If there's one thing I learned thus far in studying journalism is to treat everyone with respect when writing. Jalopnik presents the "news" as if a tyranny is in power. Everything is touted as if it's absolutely urgent and critical that you become an extremist/activist about the matter. No room for casual, sensible reading here. The site exists purely as if to "right" the "wrongs" of dastardly corporate America. Oh no! Hide your kids!

It's plausible that Jalopnik articles read like Stephen King novels because that's what sells: making a mountain out of a molehill, especially on slow news days, for which there are a great many in the auto industry. Like, oh, say, this one. Really, Jalopnik? 

Take Top Gear, for instance. Whenever Jeremy Clarkson says a diabolically absurd comment about a car, like "the ride is as comfortable as being shot," laughter and intrigue are caused. But mostly laughter. I think that's what Jalopnik is after in their writing: absurdity so extreme as to make nearly everything newsworthy, even this. This. Or this sad excuse for a post.

Then the problem, you see, with Jalopnik is that everything posted on their glorified blog site (says me, I know) is all lauded to be 100% accurate.

As a hopeful journalist, I realize it is impossible to eliminate a writer's subjectivity. However, it is the journalist's constant objective to keep subjectivity in check. The majority of Jalopnik's "reporting" is wholly subjective. No fact-checking or verifying here. Just straight, "in-your-face extreme awesomeness." Okay, I admit, Jalopnik isn't that bad, although the website produces content that is suitable for the internet, where knee-jerk reactions, "Like" buttons, Tweets and that's-so-two-seconds-ago updates are king.

So in short, is a website for automotive enthusiasts to read hyperbolic, absurd and ill-supported claims. It's like comfort food... for people who enjoy being brainwashed.

Because there are few sites that are as savvy, provide as frequent updates or display an aptitude for the internet and its many functions as Jalopnik, it remains a well-trusted source of news for auto enthusiasts. As half (based on highly-scientific guestimation methods) of all the content on the internet is baloney, nothing matters so long as it's wrapped in a visually-appealing, well-written package. (And after saying that, who knows, maybe even that very statement is false! Who can you trust these days?!)

That last paragraph was deliberate. It was meant to show that on the internet, you can essentially get away with saying anything you so desire. Which is why if Jalopnik tried to make a magazine, they would be so encumbered financially by lawsuits, they could no longer survive.


The reason I'm writing this is to take offense to a little piece written by Bill Caswell. It goes like this.

Caswell's "article" takes no prisoners on BMW's M Division, something for which he clearly feels rather strong about, given his history with the brand. Even so, there is no reason to completely bash the brand. After all, if anything, BMW does still stand for front-engined, rear-wheel drive cars that have the closest 50/50 weight distributions out of any other car brand. Now that's somewhat of an anomoly today in this world of cost-cutting, soulless, mass-produced front-wheel drive cars that handle and feel like you-know what. Yet that's what sells in high numbers, so are the manufacturers (Honda, Kia, Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan and Suzuki) to blame?

The Death Of BMW’s M Brand focuses mostly on the Lime Rock Park M3 Coupe. Caswell also uses the X5M and X6M respectively as evidence to support his position as well.

Even Billy Auberlen's getting in on the action!

It's disconcerting to see a trusted source on the internet to have a fallout with a hallmark racing brand and to use that energy to make the tens of thousands that read his article believe the same.

You see, I don't feel BMW deserved such unwarranted negative publicity in the slightest. Sure, readers should know by now how positively off-the-wall Jalopnik is with its inflammatory content, but the site consistently churns out content that is believable enough (albeit heavily slanted) and if nothing else, entertaining for how inane it is. So therefore, readers will come back. And back. And back again. Just to watch the fireworks. Nothing deserves to be taken seriously on the site. Yellow journalism is being reborn right here before our eyes.

Okay Caswell. If you want to talk about "poser" brands, I can name several that fall under that category right off the top of my head that will change your mind about BMW's "poser-ish-ness." Let's go.

Lamborghini. The cars are meant for aristocratic-types to flaunt their wealth and to be seen in public. Is there any other good reason to paint a car lime green, bright orange or highlighter yellow?

If you haven't yet seen this video, skip ahead to the 1:30-mark and watch as Jethro Bovingdon, Car and Driver's European correspondent gets hundreds of gazes from the public. Rich people love to be seen..  

Racing pedigree? I think not. Look at the marque's spotty racing history. "Lamborghini reportedly once told Ferrari that his cars were “rubbish” and too influenced by racing designs." So why does BMW deserve all the flak now, Bill?

Bugatti. For rappers and for bedroom posters, the million-dollar-plus car manufacturer makes anything but race cars. The sub-3-second 0-60 time and racy paint of the Super Sport model may make you think otherwise, but good luck rotating the 4,162 lb (1,888 kg) pig of a car round a track. And above all, I'm sure it's the car's roughly $2.4-million-pricetag that's kept it off racetracks across the world.

Birdman being "fly" next to his Bugatti Veyron. See what I did there?

Maserati. Like Bugatti, there's plenty of luxury and brute power, but not so much road-gripping performance and a successful racing record. The same could be said for the Italian brand. "Where have the good ol' days of Maserati in F1 gone?" Writer X could then continue to cry about how Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio will forever be gone and how the brand will never regain its former glory. According to Maserati's official website, the marque's last race was in 2008 and has remained a "poser" brand ever since. See Bill, I can throw that word around quite loosely too!

What's keeping you from picking on BMW's prime competitor, Mercedes, Caswell? What does their car club do? Golf outings and wine tastings are the car club's (if it can even be called such) forté. Alright, now there's nothing BMW has done that has come closer to being as poser-y as that!

And as for Benz's cars, what does the street version have to do with its DTM racing equivalent? Take the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe, for example. It doesn't even share the same V8-powered powerplant (the DTM car has a 4.0-liter V8, while the street version has a 6.2-liter) and it weighs a massive 3900 lbs. (1772.7 kg) compared with the racecar's measly 2314.9 lbs. (1050 kg). That's a a 1,586lb.-difference for you non-math types! How is that for a poser machine?! It's meant more for businessmen to cool their heads on interstates after a stressful day at work more than it is meant as a racing machine.

Sporty, yes, but this Merc could really lose a few pounds!

The BMW M3 then, has far more in common with its racing counterpart than the 'Merc probably ever will (thanks to Mercedes insistence to value luxury as much as, if not more than performance). In a recent Road & Track feature, Tommy Milner, of Corvette Racing fame took the street E92 M3 and compared with the M3 GT.

Do you ever wonder if he's getting too old to be called "Tommy?" 

When comparing the GT to its road-legal counterpart, Milner noted that "This car is always fun to drive. It’s an M3. In one way, it’s just like an M3 road car with slicks and a carbon-fiber body. But it’s quite a bit different in that the speeds are way higher. It feels like a street-car M3 that has been on steroids for many, many years."

"It's an M3."

According to Milner, another similarity links the street- and track-versions is that "in high-speed corners such as Turns 1, 2 and 3, just like the M3 road car." Finally, (and this couldn't be more icing-on-the-cake-ness right here) Milner said, “Both M3s are very much BMWs. And both have 50/50 weight distribution, which makes them so easy to drive. You can get in either car and immediately feel comfortable."

There are those who have BMWs and wish they had one. 

Let's not even get started with the JDM, scene, yo. The whole thing has been inspired by nothing more than the Fast and the Furious movies, and the drivers can be even more poser-ish. Why do Civics with no more than a poorly-installed body kit need racing harnesses? Why do Nissan Skylines need nitrous? Why do Supras need enormous, two-piece chrome wheels? These wannabes are anything but racing material. It's all for the sake of posing. None of the cars at your local meet will ever see an autocross, rallycross, let alone track.

Dang, yo, that's so cool... yo.

So, mister Billy Caswell, be aware of what you're talking about before you spout such insanity. BMW is doing a hell of a lot more to keep racing alive than most manufacturers.

According to this, "BMW is deeply involved in motorsports: from the technology  transfer and know-how learned on track being applied to their road cars, resulting in some of the best handling vehicles ever, to their young drivers program in Formula BMW promoting young talent and helping them enter the world of professional motorsport." There's no chance half of that could be said for, well, half of the car brands out there!
Every time you try to defy this brand, it will only come to bite you in the butt! Be wise with your words and respect every possible business partner for the future! Here's to the Bavarian company that will prove its skeptics wrong time, and time again! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Electric Daisy Carnival 2012: Las Vegas

After hearing of my friend's experiences at EDC Las Vegas this year, I'm being convinced more and more to get my own slice of the action at Lollapalooza. After all, should I go, this will be my first Lolla!

So, if you'd like to re-live EDC yourself, download these free recordings from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway! And these (as I'm told) were all spectacular sets, so you will be anything but disappointed!