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Sucking Fumes

Is there a stronger symbol of American individuality and independence than the car? Setting aside the actual umbilical dependence upon their cars most Americans have, the automobile itself represents power and speed. Most of all, it represents control—over one's climate and one's geography.

Though there are many high points in the history of our autophilia, I think its apex came during the era of the drive-in theater. If not for the extreme love of our cars, why else would Americans take an inherently social and communal activity, as going to a movie is, and relocate it to a parking lot, where we sat in our pods to watch grainy film projected on a far-away screen, listen to crackling audio, and eat greasy concession fare? At least we got to make out.

I was reminded of the drive-in recently when my friend Marc forwarded me coverage of another technology-induced activity that's apparently all the rage among the kids these days, the silent rave. At long last we've overcome the final hurdle to having a good time while dancing—being in complete control of the soundtrack.

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