Listening to Los Angeles
You can't diagnose your car problems by ear in Los Angeles. Believe me, I've tried, and I own an MG so I've had plenty of chances.

It's not surprising, once I think about it. Cars are a necessity of life in LA, much more so than anywhere else I've lived. When you add to that the extremely forgiving climate that allows autos to still be on the road long after they would have rusted to dust anywhere that had either precipitation or road salt, the result is some spectacular operable examples of automotive decay.

I'm not opposed to this phenomenon. In my beloved Upstate New York, my MG would last about one winter before the entire undercarriage packed up and took the rest of the frame with it. I'm thankful that prevailing conditions let me keep it.

The array of decaying autos is visually stunning, but it's nothing compared to the sounds. In a half hour of trying to isolate the annoying rattle my exhaust system seems to be intermittently generating I heard sounds varying from the low growl of a perfectly-tuned Viper complaining about the short leash that city traffic imposed to the pocketa-pocketa of a dusty truck that pulled every rivet loose on every stop light transition.

Individually the variety is telling, but in combination it's often beautiful. Sure, much of the time it's just cacophony, but every now and again, the bass of some unmufflered Toyota meshes with the squeak coming from the Caddy in the next lane and the unbalanced tire on the truck behind to blend into poetry.

But usually it just means I can't figure out what's wrong with the MG.

This page written and maintained by Ted Faber (
Please mail me any problems with, or comments about this page.
PGP Public Keys