Sunday, July 1, 2012

The People's Wagon

The People's Wagon
I've got a thing for vintage VW's as I used to own a 1972 yellow Beetle. I also say the name to clarify the spelling of my own: "Volker as in Volkswagen." My father took the family around Western Europe and up the Al-Can to Alaska in a Volkswagen Van in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Whenever I see vans and bugs in films from those times, I feel a connection and an amber-glow of nostalgia mixed with the menthol smoke of my parents' cigarettes.
I took a snap of this white one on Polk Street yesterday for sentiment but also amusement. It's parked by a soon-to-be-opened barbershop called, appropriately, Peoples.
The Volkswagen Beetle was, as most folks know, created during the Third Reich as a people's car, a Volks-Wagen, to efficiently get Germans around their country on the newly built Autobahn. I've always been fascinated that this product of Fascist engineering is instead an indelible symbol of the Hippie era, the Age of Aquarius. It evokes such a warm fuzzy feeling to see one. A slug bug! Just one of the vast number of contradictions presented by the history of the 20st Century: that this lovable, edgeless and animated car was a brainchild of the German National Socialists -- the Nazis -- yet adopted wholeheartedly by The Flower Children and other Romantics and Gypsies of the post-war road.

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