Episode 6: It’s Zero Percent About Transportation
Aaron: Alex Brook Lynn has just found a parking spot.
Alex Brook Lynn: Can I fit in there?
Aaron: I think so. Do you want me to get out and, like …?
Alex Brook Lynn: I mean, I don’t know if I can fit in it.
Aaron: I could move that Vespa.
Alex Brook Lynn: [laughs]
Sarah Goodyear: Aaron, what are we listening to?
Aaron: [laughs] So I met with Alex Brook Lynn—that’s her real name. She’s from Manhattan, not Brooklyn.
Aaron: Alex Brook Lynn. She’s the producer of FAQ NYC, which is an awesome podcast about local New York City politics. Alex owns a 1987 Cadillac DeVille, and that’s me and her trying to find a parking spot for it in Greenwich Village the day after Halloween.
Alex Brook Lynn: I don’t think so. I think I’m too long.
Aaron: Oh, I kind of want to do it.
Alex Brook Lynn: Yeah?
Aaron: Can I try to park it?
Alex Brook Lynn: Yeah.
Alex Brook Lynn: Yeah.
Aaron: You won’t be insulted?
Alex Brook Lynn: No. I didn’t even learn to drive ’til I was, like, 22.
Aaron: Oh my God, I’m from Ohio, so it’s like we couldn’t even, like—we had like no freedom without driving.
Alex Brook Lynn: If somebody gave me a car when I was a teenager, I would be dead.
Doug Gordon: So Aaron, you tried to park this 300-foot-long tank.
Aaron: Yeah. Yeah, I really wanted to do it.
Aaron: I didn’t want to, like, mansplain her parking, you know? And be like that guy.
Doug: Well, it sounds like she was pretty willing to let you do it.
Sarah: Oh, okay. That’s good. No, she said she was okay with it.
Aaron: She was very okay with it.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Doug: Mansplaining parking.
Aaron: Man parking? Man parallel?
Sarah: Don’t do that to me because I once parallel parked a 14-foot moving truck on Steinway Street in Astoria after driving for 10 hours, and I parked it on the first go.
Aaron: I would never even ask. I would never even ask.
Sarah: Yeah, okay. Thank you. You know. You know.
Doug: I would just abandon the car like that in the middle of the street. I would just say no.
Aaron: But it was—it seemed like we had the spot. It was doable. And there was a Vespa, a little scooter parked in front that you could easily knock over with this thing. So it was just a real challenge.
Sarah: So you just plowed over it?
Aaron: Yeah. No, I’m very careful.
Doug: No, you took it. You put it in the trunk of the car, and then you put …
Aaron: A real point of pride for me, parallel parking.
Aaron: Oh, it’s enormous! It’s a land boat!
Alex Brook Lynn: I might just fit here, but it’s, like, so crazy. It’s gonna be so tight.
Aaron: I can do it.
Alex Brook Lynn: It’ll be that inching in business. I don’t know if this will fit.
Aaron: [whispers] Oh, I got it.
Alex Brook Lynn: Oh wow, you got it in.
Aaron: Got it.
Alex Brook Lynn: Oh, yes!
Sarah: Nice work.
Aaron: It took two tries. I had to come—I had to totally do it twice.
Doug: That’s not so bad.
Aaron: Took about 10 minutes.
Aaron: Can you pop open your door so I can see how far off the curb I got? That’s not bad. That’s, like, respectable.
Sarah: All right, that is impressive. I’ll give you that.
Aaron: Thank you. ’87 Cadillac Deville parked. I was actually just meeting with Alex about a whole other thing. I just really like her podcast producing, and so I called her to meet about podcast business and she was like, “Okay, I’m available Thursday morning, 9:00 a.m. Meet me on the corner of Morton and Bedford in the Village.” And I was like, “Just like out on the street? You don’t want to, like, meet in a location …”
Doug: Coffee shop or something? Right, yeah.
Aaron: In a place? And she was like, “No, it’s alternate side parking. I got to move my Cadillac.”
Doug: Right. So we should explain: this is also a very parochial New York thing. In New York, if you own a car and you park it on the street, once a week, twice a week in some places, you have to move your car so the street can be cleaned. And this is a little ritual that a lot of car-owning New Yorkers go through every week. They just move their car from one side of the street to the other, or to a different street where the rules are different.
Sarah: Or they double park and wait.
Doug: And just wait.
Sarah: And wait for the street cleaning to be done, which takes about two hours.
Aaron: Right. And so there’s an enormous amount of traffic congestion that is literally just people moving their cars for street cleaning.
Doug: And in the ideal situation, you’d think that the night before you’d go find a legal spot, but more likely what happens with a lot of people is like what happens with Alex, is they just sit in their car, move it, wait for the street cleaner to come through, and then move it back.
Aaron: There’s not a lot of parking spots.
Doug: Some of the smaller streets in all of the five boroughs, yeah.
Aaron: So this took some time. We find this great spot. After all that, Alex is like, “Hmm, I should actually check the New York City parking calendar to see if alternate side parking is even happening today.”
Sarah: Oh my God. Then she checks it?
Aaron: Yeah, so …
Aaron: … here we go.
Alex Brook Lynn: I’m gonna just look it up and make sure.
Alex Brook Lynn: Yes, it is suspended today!
Aaron: Why? Is it like an obscure Jewish holiday or just post-Halloween?
Alex Brook Lynn: No, it’s an obscure Catholic holiday—All Saints Day.
Aaron: What the fuck is All Saints Day?
Alex Brook Lynn: You know, Catholic shit. I don’t know. Catholics, thank God! Thank God for the urban coalition and the holidays.
Sarah: Yeah, thank God. Because it’s true, there are the obscure Catholic holidays, there are the obscure Jewish holidays.
Doug: There’s also lunar holidays.
Sarah: There’s a lunar holiday. It’s a very inclusive parking calendar.
Aaron: All right, here we go. This is The War on Cars. I’m Aaron Naparstek, and I’m joined by Sarah Goodyear and Doug Gordon.
Sarah: Good morning.
Aaron: Today we take you behind enemy lines with Alex Brook Lynn and her 1987 Cadillac Deville. And we will try to convince Alex to quit her car.
Doug: All right, so “Quit Your Car” is a new segment we’re working on for the podcast. Sarah, you want to tell us what this is about?
Sarah: Yeah, we’re gonna talk to people who own cars in the city, and we’re going to say, you know, “Is there any way you would consider giving up your car because really, you ought not to own a car in the city.” So …
Aaron: This is sort of like the diplomatic initiative of The War on Cars.
Doug: Yeah, we’re extending kind of olive branches to car owners, not just in this city, but really anywhere, and finding out what drives people to own a car. Could they get rid of it? Could they think of their lives a different way without one?
Sarah: Right. Why? Why do you do this to yourself? Why do you have a car? And if you could quit it, you know, just think how much better you’d feel.
Aaron: And also, this totally justifies our, you know, later use of force because we really tried diplomacy. We tried to talk this out.
Sarah: All right. So how’d it go with Alex? How did the diplomacy go with her? [laughs]
Aaron: Well, that’s what we’re gonna hear about this show.
Doug: Okay. But first, we want to talk about money. We want to say thank you to everybody who has supported us on Patreon so far. We still would love more support. We have some amazing rewards like stickers and t-shirts for our supporters. Go to TheWaronCars.org, click “Donate,” throw a few bucks our way. And thank you as always to the law office of Vaccaro and White for their generosity. They are our top Patreon sponsor.
Aaron: Feel free to knock them off.
Doug: Yeah. This is a competition.
Aaron: Any other law offices that want to, you know, get rid of Vaccaro and White?
Aaron: Sorry, Steve. Sorry, Adam.
Aaron: Okay, so I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I loved Alex’s Cadillac.
Sarah: You know, I was kind of picking up on that. [laughs]
Doug: This is like you went out hunting and you bagged the big one. You really were happy about this.
Sarah: It sounds like it was pretty sexy, actually.
Aaron: Well, it was kind of sexy, you know? You got that? You got …
Sarah: The velvet, yeah.
Aaron: … the tension of squeezing the big object into the tight parking spot?
Doug: We get in trouble for swearing. Watch—yeah, be careful.
Sarah: This is a family show. It’s a family War on Cars.
Aaron: We’ll mark this one up as “Explicit.”
Doug: Explicit, yeah.
Sarah: All right. So I mean, I want to know more about the car. You know, how hot is this car?
Aaron: All right. Well, so let’s let Alex describe it for us.
Alex Brook Lynn: My Cadillac, it’s a white Cadillac and with, like, gold little—like, the little hood ornament is gold, and the little word Cadillac used to be gold. And the entire inside is maroon. Maroon velvet and maroon vinyl on the dash.
Aaron: So yeah, it’s got the, like, the vinyl hardtop, the little Cadillac medallion.
Sarah: Aaron. Aaron.
Aaron: It’s like you’re in a time machine. So everything is soft in there. It’s like I’m in my grandmother’s living room!
Doug: I was gonna—it’s like you met a woman and you really—like, this is getting a little inappropriate.
Sarah: Yeah. I mean, does your wife know about this?
Aaron: It’s just intellectual, my interest. So the dashboard controls are kind of like a museum of pre-digital design. So it’s got that kind of—everything’s got that Radio Shack 1980s computer font, like, before anyone actually knew what computers were. And, like, here’s what computers are gonna be like, you know?
Sarah: Oh, this is sad.
Aaron: It’s got the tape deck with auto reverse symphony sound. A panel on the dash called the quote-unquote “Information Center.”
Sarah: And what kind of information does one get from the Information Center?
Aaron: Well here, let Alex explain. Let her explain the “Fuel Data Center.”
Aaron: The Fuel Data Center.
Alex Brook Lynn: The Fuel Data Center is hilarious. It says, “This is how many gallons you have left.” And it’ll say 14 or 11 or 12. However, once you go down to three, you absolutely have to fill it with gas because then it won’t tell you below three. And I ran out of gas on West 4th Street. I was just in the middle of the street and I was like, “Oh, I think my car just broke.”
Aaron: So the Fuel Data Center doesn’t actually tell you when you’re, like, approaching empty.
Doug: That’s amazing. The thing is, this sounds like—okay, you love this, but this sounds like a total pain in the ass to me. Why does she own this behemoth, this gas-guzzling monster, and park it on the street?
Aaron: Yeah, this is sort of the mystifying—I think this is the core question. So we talked about that.
Aaron: How do you end up being someone who lives in Greenwich Village with a 30-year-old Cadillac that you park on the street?
Alex Brook Lynn: I guess it starts where everything starts for people who are entering their mid-30s. So it starts with a separation and a divorce. Then it was—and then the realization you can do whatever the fuck you want now. Like, you don’t have to think for two, you don’t have to plan for two. Vacations, it’s not about like, “Okay, where are we gonna stay?” It’s like you—or money, you don’t have to plan anymore. You can spend your money on whatever you want. And you’re like, “All right. Well, what do I want?” And then the thought occurs to you that you want to be like some sort of old time-y New York character, A); also an MMA fighter.
Sarah: Okay, now the MMA fighter part, I’m totally into. Like, that’s good.
Doug: That’s okay. I think that’s all right. A lot of people are into MMA. Yeah, totally.
Sarah: Yeah, but …
Aaron: Don’t you love it? It’s like, of course, like, you have a divorce and you want to get a Cadillac.
Sarah: It’s funny. When I got divorced in my early 30s, I actually ditched—I gave him the car. I was like, “You take this piece of metal and haul it around for the rest of your life.” But so I guess to each their own. But yeah, like, it’s just an interesting—so it’s like a persona?
Aaron: Yeah. I mean, it’s like, you really get the sense that the Cadillac is much more of an aesthetic choice than a transportation choice.
Doug: I was gonna say when we proposed “Quit Your Car,” I thought this was gonna be like a mom says, “I have to drive my kids to daycare and soccer practice, and I gotta pick up groceries and then I gotta get to work.” And no, this is like, we’re doing therapy on a person here right now. This is really different than I expected.
Sarah: And I mean, I think it cuts to the core of why people—one of the reasons that people have cars is that it becomes part of their identity, right? And that it’s not just about, you know, I need this to perform this task, but instead, it’s also something that’s, like, signifying to the world what your values are, who you are deep inside.
Aaron: And I feel like that doesn’t come up enough in this sort of transportation wonk policy community that, you know, we’re all about, like, measuring commute times and vehicle miles traveled and whatever other data collection that, you know, Bruce Schaller will do. No one ever just figures out, like, how many people are owning cars because it’s essentially a fashion accessory, or part of their identity, or something that makes them feel good.
Doug: So I can kind of get my head around you enter your mid-30s, you go through this divorce and you kind of want to reinvent yourself or just do whatever the hell you want. But you can do that in so many ways. You can get a tattoo. You could shave your head, you could buy a leather jacket, you could move to another city. Like, why did she choose to take on this thing that involves having to move it twice a week? Sounds like a pain in the ass.
Aaron: Right. So alternate side parking. Why? Why would she do that?
Doug: Like, why would she deal with that every week?
Aaron: Okay. Very good question. And she has an answer.
Alex Brook Lynn: Alternate side parking, I find is like this beautiful respite. I have an hour and a half where my one responsibility is to sit in, like, this car and like, read. I read or I draw or I do things that I—or I talk on the phone, but I try not to. It’s a pleasure. I sometimes will take on so many projects that I’ll give myself no free time except for when I get to sit in the Cadillac twice a week for an hour and a half.
Aaron: So in a way, like, having a big car with an amazing interior, that’s kind of—that’s almost the point.
Alex Brook Lynn: It’s the point. I just like to sit in it. I don’t even like driving that much. I certainly don’t like driving long distances. I get really bored. It’s almost like a weirdly—it’s like an antidepressant. You get in your car with your plush interior, you turn on the radio and you just feel A) at home; and B) just like you’re moving.
Doug: That is amazing. They feel like you’re moving, even though you’re sitting still. It’s like she’s just floating there in suspended animation, feeling calm and at peace.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s—I mean, you know, what’s weird is that she is not alone in this. There’s a recent study that just came out that IKEA funded, which is kind of strange, but it found that almost half of Americans, 45 percent of Americans, go to their car for a private moment because they don’t feel comfortable having a private moment at home, I guess. You know, it’s second to people going to the bedroom or the bathroom for a private moment, but third on the list is their car.
Doug: That’s amazing.
Sarah: It’s weird. And it is like you’re moving, you’re in public space because you’re in a car which is out in the world, but you’re also in this private space.
Aaron: Yeah, you’re, like, annexing a bubble of private space in the middle of Greenwich Village. I mean, in Alex’s case, it’s actually, if you think about it, it’s sort of a rational decision in that, you know, Greenwich Village, it’s probably the most expensive housing in North America. It’s like right up there. It’s one of the most expensive neighborhoods you could live in. And all you have to do to get a beautiful, plush living room for yourself is buy a cheap Cadillac from some retiree in Connecticut, as Alex did, and park it on the street for free. And now you have an incredible private living room right out in front of your apartment because we basically give away the street for free.
Doug: And so long as you’re cool with moving at once or twice a week, with exceptions for Jewish holidays, All Saints Day.
Aaron: [laughs] Yeah.
Doug: That is, like, totally fine. I can understand that, I guess.
Aaron: But there’s a rationality to it.
Doug: And interestingly too, I think, to broaden this out to the suburbs and that IKEA study, right? Like, suburbs lack what you would call the third space. You go to your office, you go home, and it’s really hard to just stop into a bar or a cafe and have a place that’s not one of those spaces. So yeah, you are in a busy household with kids running around or, you know, the TVs blaring and you just want a moment to yourself and someone’s in the bathroom, so instead you go out to your garage, you get in your car and you sit there for a few minutes. And it’s sad, but it makes sense.
Sarah: Yeah. And actually, there’s an ad that I saw last year where the wife keeps wanting to go out and get another thing for the Thanksgiving table, I think. And the whole point of it is just that she’ll get to drive back and forth in this great car and it’s like, “Oh, whoops! We need—oh, we need a pie! We need—” And, you know, ha ha ha. The thing is, you really just would rather be driving around in your car than actually in your home with your family which, you know, the problem is that doing that with your car has a very different effect on society than doing it by sitting on a stoop or going to a bar or going to a coffee shop. Like, doing that in your car is a detriment to the common space that everyone is sharing.
Doug: Yeah, so does she justify that in some way? Because she’s making a choice. She’s taking public space from other people. She’s got this thing that gets, you know, six miles to the gallon, and it’s terrible for the environment. Like, how does she rationalize that part of it?
Aaron: Yeah, so that’s really interesting. I mean, this is “Quit Your Car,” so I confronted Alex a little bit on that. And, you know, it’s like, does she realize that her gigantic, gas-guzzling Cadillac imposes a number of costs on the city and her neighbors on the planet? And she had a pretty interesting response to that.
Aaron: So, you know, I do this podcast called The War on Cars, so we’re technically at war with your Cadillac.
Alex Brook Lynn: Oh. [laughs] I don’t know how anybody could be at war with such a pretty thing. I mean, obviously, it takes too much gas. It’s completely fucked for the environment, but I feel like it’s okay because I don’t really drive it. I more sit in it.
Aaron: So she’s not—you know, she’s not entirely blind to the sort of macro externalities and costs of the Cadillac.
Sarah: Yeah, except she doesn’t see what the Cadillac does just by sitting there on the street and taking up space. And I mean, she does drive it. She’s driving it around looking for a parking space.
Doug: And also, her taking this spot for this mobile living room is taking a spot from someone else who might need it for a higher and better purpose that we might be able to justify.
Sarah: Right. Like a loading zone, or a …
Doug: Or a handicapped person who needs access to the curb. You know, it’s this weird, like—you know, she doesn’t mean it this way, but she’s kind of a living embodiment of the tragedy of the commons that, like, “Oh, I’m just doing this little thing to satisfy my little corner of the universe.” But, you know, multiplied by millions of people making that choice, it really adds up.
Aaron: Yeah. And, you know, I sort of presented her with the kind of War on Cars vision of the city. I was like, “Look, you know, once the war on cars is won, you know, lower Manhattan is gonna be mostly free of personal cars. And the spot we’re sitting in, this could be, like, a two-way bike lane or a really nice dedicated bus lane. And what would it take to get you on board with that vision and get you to give up this car?
Doug: So what did she say?
Aaron: All right.
Alex Brook Lynn: I would give up my car if the city was like, “All right. You know what? No more personal vehicles. Only taxis and commercial traffic and bikes from now on in the city.” Which I think would be a good idea. I would just go park it at my dad’s. I would give it up pretty easily if, like, it was really important that I gave it up.
Sarah: Wow, that’s really interesting. “If it was really important.”
Sarah: So it’s almost like she wants somebody to tell her or she needs somebody to tell her in some really tangible way that it is really important.
Doug: Because she seems to know that it’s important. That’s the thing. She knows that it’s important to give it up.
Aaron: She does. And it was when we drilled into it, I was like, “Well, what would be important to you?” And she actually—the thing, the first thing she cited was, “Well, if the insurance got really expensive.” So it was cost.
Aaron: It was cost. Like, if this car—because she doesn’t drive it that much, so gas doesn’t cost her that much, maintenance doesn’t cost her that much. She already paid for it, so that’s done. So the thing that she cited was, like, “Look, if it was like a big monthly insurance bill, that would be important to me, that would make me want to give it up.”
Sarah: Hmm. Or if the city were to charge her for parking, like through a permit or whatever, and it were enough of a cost, maybe. But it would be cost. It would be money. And that’s the way that we tell people things are important in this culture.
Aaron: And if you—I mean, you let people park a Cadillac for free in the middle of Greenwich Village, they’re gonna do that. Somebody’s gonna do that.
Sarah: They’re gonna do that. Yeah.
Aaron: And it’s almost like you can’t even be judgmental of that person, I feel like, because they’re making a choice that we as a city almost seem like we’re encouraging.
Sarah: Yeah. No, she’s being extremely rational about this. I get it.
Doug: And she’s also observing the law. She’s moving her car, so she’s not doing anything. Her reason for having that car is no better or worse than the person who uses it to drive to a country home or something where they feel equally as isolated and alone and comfortable there. She’s making an emotional choice, just like that person is.
Aaron: Yeah, and that’s what came through is emotion is really the driving force here.
Alex Brook Lynn: When people come in and sit in here, they feel good. So sometimes I just like sitting in here with my friends. Again, it’s definitely zero percent about transportation.
Aaron: [laughs] I love that.
Doug: I mean, Aaron, it was zero percent transportation for you. You fell in love with this thing, and you only drove it around the block, basically.
Aaron: I know.
Aaron: I know. It was zero percent transportation, like, 50 percent plush, maroon velvet seating.
Sarah: She’s incredibly self-aware about this, right?
Aaron: Oh, I mean, she literally could be like a lieutenant colonel in the war on cars. I mean, she …
Doug: She’s our woman on the inside, basically.
Aaron: Yeah, she totally gets it. And she’s like a real urbanist. She’s a New York City kid. She grew up here, she cares a lot about the city. Here, she can explain it.
Alex Brook Lynn: If I had my preferred mode of transportation, it’s walking. I don’t even like going places that I can’t walk. I like Paris because it’s a walking city. Berlin, I like to walk. I hate places that I can’t walk. That’s why I don’t like LA at all. It makes me feel like the most lonely I’ve ever felt in my entire life. It’s like a ghost place. It’s spread out, it’s smeared all over, and nobody’s outside. And the people that are outside are desperately addicted to drugs and living in tents. And they’re not—nobody’s doing anything about it because nobody has to because everyone’s in their stupid car, and they don’t have to take public transportation. They never have to see a human being of a different kind of social set or a different income level if they don’t want to. And that’s probably primarily the problem with the entire country, that most people don’t actually have to look at other people face to face or interact with people that are different than them in a mass transit situation. I mean, cars in general are, like, personal, like, ruining community.
Doug: She totally gets it.
Doug: That’s the amazing thing. She gets it at a gut level.
Sarah: She gets it and she’s doing it at the same time. It’s like the paradox. I mean, she’s sitting alone in her car and ruining community. I mean, you know, it just is so weird in a way. Like, it’s just—but also emblematic of how many progressive and liberal people—myself included—are hypocritical about so many things or don’t, like, you know, they still—like you were saying Doug, it’s like, “Oh, this is just my little choice this one time.” And it’s almost like we don’t believe that our personal choices actually make any difference.
Doug: Yeah. By the way, we’re gonna hear from all of our listeners in Los Angeles who are gonna stick up for community in Los Angeles.
Sarah: Yeah, big time.
Aaron: That’s such an amazing New York City view of LA. Just like, “Everyone on the street is living in tents!”
Doug: And they have a problem there but, you know, there’s a strong sense of community in lots of Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Sarah: Yeah. Well, and she said she wanted to be an old time-y New York character, right? Well, that is like the old time-y New York character vision of Los Angeles, like, par excellence.
Doug: But I think that’s interesting because when we tried to fight here to make more car-free places, we often come up against these people who are longing almost for the bad old days of New York City: the graffiti on the subways, where you could drive everywhere, where you could—you know, maybe you went to a Broadway show or for dinner in Manhattan, but when you drove back to Park Slope—bam!—you just parked on the street, no problem. Like, she is a kind of symbolic version of that, although much more self-aware.
Aaron: Well, there’s this enormous progressive, liberal blind spot for cars, right? And this is kind of emblematic of that in a way where, you know, you have these incredible fights in the most liberal places in America. Like, what’s Berkeley? Berkeley, California, just unveiled some, like, massive new green parking garage.
Sarah: Yeah. But they won’t let you build an apartment building that’s, like, more than three stories tall.
Aaron: Next to a BART station, they won’t let you build an apartment building, you know? In Park Slope, the most liberal neighborhood in America, almost, they fought a bike lane for three years.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.
Aaron: It happens everywhere. So there is this enormous contradiction, I think, between our professed values, particularly about sort of environmentalism and making the city work, and our cars, right?
Sarah: Yeah. Oh, absolutely.
Doug: Well, because the cars are more than just getting from point A to point B, because the people we were fighting, you know, in the Prospect Park West bike lane fight, for example, most of them didn’t really need their cars to get around. They were doing all of their grocery shopping 10 blocks away, and they could easily have taken a car service or walked, but they just were attached to their cars because they had had them for 20 years.
Sarah: Yeah, again, it’s really emotional. It’s an emotional connection, and it’s a thing about identity and some kind of dream of agency, I think.
Aaron: Well, and for Alex, I mean, she’s really explicit about it, that the Cadillac almost isn’t even a car to her. You know, the Cadillac is just something else entirely.
Alex Brook Lynn: Having a car in the city is the same as, like, having a cup of coffee at a diner and staring out the window. Having this kind of car in the city. Like, if someone was like, “Hey, do you want a Kia? You could have a Kia.” I would be like, “No, I don’t want a fucking car in the city.” Like, why would I want that? Just to have a car? I don’t need that.
Aaron: So I’m probably not gonna convince you to quit your car because it’s almost like an aesthetic thing for you. It’s not …
Alex Brook Lynn: A hundred percent an aesthetic thing. Like, it’s not a necessity at all. I would totally promise not to drive it, like, when not necessary. I don’t want to put gas into the atmosphere. I just want to sit in it.
Doug: So I think what we need to solve this—I think we got a solution to this problem.
Doug: So I’m gonna launch a service called just Car. All right? So I’m gonna put—I’m gonna build car-shaped objects. They’re soundproof. They’re gonna have really comfortable interiors. They’ll have, like, a tape deck. You can maybe order one up by era. You know, you love the 1950s, you can get one of those. You love the 1960s. You love the future? I’ll build, like, a fake flying car that we can park on the street. And you can just sit in it, and for the cost of what you would pay in insurance and the little bit of gas, that goes to me. So, yeah. Venture capitalists, if you’re listening.
Sarah: That’s right. Fund this man.
Doug: That’s what she needs. She needs Airbnb for an isolation chamber that she can sit in just outside on the street.
Sarah: That has—but it has to have style. It has to be a style statement.
Doug: It’s like one of those Japanese pod nap hotels, but just on the street for her. And it has to have a certain look.
Sarah: Okay, I can get behind this.
Aaron: I’d be willing to set aside a chunk of Central Park for that, even.
Sarah: Could we maybe pick something else besides Central Park?
Aaron: Okay. Maybe it’s like a parking garage somewhere in Midtown.
Sarah: Yeah. Or, like, some dead space near the Hudson, like near the Holland Tunnel or something.
Doug: But I think what’s interesting is that they don’t want that, right? They don’t want to be isolated away. It’s like, in a city, you can be isolated even when you’re surrounded by lots and lots of other people.
Doug: And so I would imagine that it’s not only just about the car, it’s about where she parks it.
Sarah: And it’s sort of like having headphones on, right? Like, that you are listening to your own soundtrack.
Doug: But you’re surrounded.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.
Doug: Aaron, was there anything, like, because this is an aesthetic choice, like a costume for her, was there anything that would have caused her to give it up?
Aaron: Well, all right. So did you listen to the very last piece of it?
Doug: No, I did not.
Sarah: Oh, okay. I did.
Aaron: Oh, that’s funny, because you literally just gave her conclusion, which might be a better way to do it.
Doug: Yeah. No, I’ve not listened to the end of the tape.
Sarah: No, Doug, that’s very interesting. That is really weird.
Doug: I started listening. I got distracted at work. I had to move on, and I never came back to it before we recorded this podcast.
Aaron: So you basically just revealed …
Sarah: Wow, you’re channeling her.
Alex Brook Lynn: I think what you should do is allow a park or a place like a big park or something for—maybe Governor’s Island, for the shells of cars like this that are, like, maintained and weather-stripped and all this stuff. They don’t even—they only have to run insomuch as, like, the heat could come in, so that people could come and sit in them. I would go to Governors Island. If the vision was true, I would then travel to a park or a place where I could come and sit in cars like this, to just sit and read.
Aaron: That’s so brilliant. That’s like, literally a car park.
Alex Brook Lynn: It would be a car park, yeah, but with cars with plush interiors that are nice to sit in. But then, you know, someone would inevitably pee in it. Ugh. People are kind of horrible.
Doug: This is amazing!
Aaron: Says a New Yorker.
Doug: This is amazing.
Alex Brook Lynn: I think we can co-exist in this vision, as long as we make a design for a car park.
Aaron: I like that. I like that we found a way to come together on this, on the war on cars.
Alex Brook Lynn: You just have to make sure that everybody else you convince also similarly could care less about actually driving their car. [laughs]
Aaron: I feel like you’re a super unique case.
Alex Brook Lynn: [laughs] Maybe. Maybe.
Doug: That’s amazing.
Doug: Like, she’s basically talking about what’s the opposite of an amusement park? Like, she’s saying, like, a place where you can just sit in the shell of a car.
Sarah: A bemusement park?
Doug: Yeah. I’m bemused here.
Doug: Yeah, that’s amazing.
Doug: So she really does want an Airbnb but for cars.
Aaron: Yeah, she doesn’t really want to drive it around that much, you know?
Aaron: It’s not that important to her.
Sarah: Yeah, I love the thing that she says if the vision was true, you know? But then she also says, you know, but people are kind of horrible. Immediately, she goes to the thing of that people would mess this up because, you know, that is the tragedy of the commons, right? Like, you know, then we’d have these shared cars, but somebody would have to pee in it or throw up or have sex and leave their condom there.
Aaron: You should make your venture capital pitch now.
Doug: Yeah, I was gonna say, but, you know, if anyone’s willing to fund this, I can be reached. You can find me very easily online. Contact me. I think we’re valued at …
Doug: Yeah. Carbnb. We’re valued all right at $1 billion.
Aaron: I mean, it’s brilliant that you just get, like, a couple of floors of some, like, defunct parking garage in Manhattan where it’s empty. You get a bunch of different kinds of cars, right?
Aaron: And you just rent them out. You rent out the cars.
Doug: You could even set up video screens around the outside to pipe in, like, street scenes. Like, you want to be in the Village? Great. We got the Village.
Sarah: Oh yeah, like, kind of green screen.
Doug: You want to be, like, in the middle of Central Park? Great, we got that. Like, you could really do this. I’m trademarking this, right?
Sarah: I know. Okay, put your flag down.
Doug: I’m gonna go down to the patent office.
Doug: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Guys? Sorry, I’m retiring from the podcast. I’m now a trillionaire.
Sarah: Oh my God.
Aaron: Okay, so that’s it for this episode. Thanks for joining us and listening. Very special thanks to Alex Brook Lynn for letting me park with her in her Cadillac DeVille. That was fantastic. Really appreciate it.
Doug: And thank you to all of you. If you have questions or comments, if you want to be a part of “Quit Your Car,” send us an email at TheWaronCars(at)gmail.com. Don’t forget to support us on Patreon. Go to TheWaronCars.org Click on “Donate.” Thanks again to the law office of Vaccaro and White for sponsoring us as well.
Sarah: Also, head on over to Apple Podcasts where you can rate and review us, because that will really help people find us and hopefully gain us a few more foot soldiers in the war on cars. We’re gonna need them. This episode was recorded by Peter Carl. Our producer Curtis Fox. The music is by Nathaniel Goodyear, and Dani Finkel of Crucial D. did our logo. I’m Sarah Goodyear.
Doug: I’m Doug Gordon.
Aaron: Aaron Naparstek.
Doug: Thanks for listening.