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Not-So-Nostalgic: Bruce McCall's "The Last Dream-O-Rama"

Contributed by Owen Schumacher

It's hard for most of us not to recall the cars of postwar America with great fondness. But not for the author and illustrator, Bruce McCall, who saw through the clunky, neglected engineering and corresponding culture of gee-whiz enthusiasm—behind all those gleaming, two-tone, two-ton behemoths of the Eisenhauer era. Bruce was there at the time. He lived it. He illustrated the cars of Ford's Canadian division in Toronto. And he hated every moment of it.

The '56 Ford Meteor, the Canadian equivalent to the Fairlane, is absolutely beautiful, by the way. It's like a road sculpture. Bruce would likely burst your bubble and tell you something pessimistic about it, but just wow!

Enter Bruce's revenge: The Last Dream-O-Rama (2001), a tongue-in-cheek recollection of the gaudy, glittering monsters the Big Three forgot to build—like the '55 Bar-B-King Royal Patio Leisureliner, the car with a complete backyard barbecue, or the '59 Fin-Landia Choiceflow Fundeck, whose slotted rear deck leaves you, the proud owner, the freedom to insert a tail fin combination of your choice. Now that's freedom!

All these impossible cruisers, the author would argue, are the daffy, chromed-out expressions of an obnoxious Atomic Age: naïve, kitschy, wasteful, superficial, and even McCarthyan.

But I just think they're pretty—nuts—but pretty. And there's even a part of me—with a crew cut and skinny tie, I guess—that wouldn't mind seeing Bruce's creations built. As jokingly impractical as they are.

The time and culture behind these cars may be the object of Bruce's derision, but ironically, the beauty of his work still initiates our inner Goldwater—that dusty, latent part of us that can't help but shimmer for Rockwell, malt shops, or Wolfman Jack.

But enough thinking. Just laugh at Bruce's cars already!

Bruce McCall is a Canadian author and illustrator, best known for his frequent contributions to The New Yorker.

Bruce McCall is a Canadian author and illustrator, best known for his frequent contributions to The New Yorker.

Bruce McCall is a Canadian author and illustrator, best known for his frequent contributions to The New Yorker.

Bruce McCall is a Canadian author and illustrator, best known for his frequent contributions to The New Yorker.

Bruce McCall is a Canadian author and illustrator, best known for his frequent contributions to The New Yorker.

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