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Ask the Maestro

Copyright 1997, by Harry Pellow, All Rights Reserved.

Long ago and far away, the Maestro once heard that old adage "There Ain't no Such Thing as Bad P.R.". Meaning that ANY Publicity you get is Good! Even if the Publicity is Bad.

.....Got that? Even Bad Publicity is Good!

.....Richard Jewell, the falsely-accused "Atlanta Bomber" security guard sure knows about the Benefits of Bad P.R., as he counts his Slander/Libel lawsuit settlements from Tom Brokaw and the rest of The Media.

.....Maybe that's why so many movie stars have such love/hate relationships with the supermarket Tabloids- after all it IS "P.R.". And ANY P.R. is supposed to be better than NO P.R. at all, recent 4-Cam Stories in "Excellence" excepted.

.....So, when the Maestro first got the call from the Sambo Se "Metro" reporter who was doing puff pieces on people having "unusual or unique" jobs- which the Maestro certainly has- the Maestro figured he had little to lose, publicity wise.

.....Yeah, Right.

.....Right off the Bat, the Maestro's Center of Higher Reasoning had its doubts, for the Reporter, a MFP (Member of the Female Persuasion) said:

....."Oh, I'm coming down from The City and could you pick me up at the Train Station? I don't want to drive my car down."

....."Why not?" asked the Maestro. "What kind of car do you drive?"

.....Said the Cub Reporter proudly: "I drive a 85 HonDatToy. No, it's an '83 HonDatToy. Wait, maybe it's an 84 HonDatToy..."

....."Doesn't matter," sad the Maestro. "They're all the same. So, does it have a problem? Maybe I can fix it over the phone."

....."No," said the Reporter. "My HonDatToy is just fine thank you. It's just Environmentally Incorrect to dive my car when I could take the train."

.....Oh, Geez, croaked the Maestro's Center of Higher Reasoning silently. Here we've got an Environmental Wacko Reporter who wants to interview the Maestro who's a Porsche Nut?

.....Doth this Wind Blow Ill?

.....But the Maestro's Super Ego stepped in figuring- "Hey, No Problem we take her for a short ride in the near-Virgin in Off-White 356SC Coupe with Trusty's Hot Rod Engine and she'll be CONVERTED! She'll love the 356, like the Maestro and write a Great Puff Piece."

....."So when do you want me to pick you up?" said the Maestro.

....."Oh, about noon. I'll call you after my first interview."

....."Just out of curiosity," asked the Maestro. "What IS your First Interview about?"

....."Oh," said the sweet, young Reporter- "Domestic Abuse".

.....Oh, GREAT, moaned the Center of Higher Reasoning, knowing a euphemism when it heard one. (Translation: Domestic Abuse = Wife-Beating by Husband/Boyfriend/Father/MALE. And right after that Uplifting Interview, convinced that all Men are Pigs, this environmentally correct reporter was gonna Interview the Maestro, a testosterone-poisoned male car nut.


....."This could be a DISASTER!" shouted the Center of Higher Reasoning. "You know how Mrs. Maestro gets sometimes. Suppose this one's in THAT mood then. You'd be screwed."

.....The Center of Higher Reasoning tried Vainly to bring the Maestro's Super Ego back to Reality, but the Ego was firmly in control. It really figured that the New 356, the near-Virgin in Off-White '1965 "SC" would charm the pants off the reporter (figuratively speaking of course) and get a nice article written. And much new business would result!


.....Interview day came. The Maestro had cleaned up the near-Virgin in off white 356SC Coupe, and arranged the seat belts neatly across the front passengers seat in plain view, just in case she indulged.

.....He put an all-important Vice Grip on the passenger's seatback "gear" mechanism to prevent our Lady Reporter friend from suddenly and surprisingly assuming the reclining position when the seat back flops down, as had happened to Mrs. Maestro the previous week. She didn't like it very much.

.....He even cleaned up the Shop and mopped the floors. And spiffed up the Bathroom, just in case.

.....The Day and Time came, so off he went to collect the Reporter.

.....He found her sitting on the curb off the Alameda, looking appropriately depressed for having just come from a "Domestic Abuse" interview.

.....She perked up when she saw the White 356 apparition. THIS must be him- that man-boy.

.....It was.

.....She hopped in and introduced herself. She was a member of the Asian Persuasion, about 25 Summers of age with no visible body parts pierced. A Good Sign.

.....Rating: about 425 Milli-Helens. 0.5 British Standard Handfuls.

.....The trip back was uneventful until the Maestro turned onto the Freeway for the short hop to his Shop. He goosed Trusty's engine, which was happy as hell to be where it was- in the Off-White, near-Virgin 356SC. It liked being goosed, and together they shot onto the Freeway.

....."See," said the Maestro to the Reporter. "The Power is certainly Adequate. The 30+ year-old 356'll keep up with modern-day traffic with Noooo Problem- Even with the new 65/70mph speed limit. "But," added the Maestro. "The 356's real Claim to Fame is Handling."

.....The offramp to the San Jose Airport is a surprisingly sharp, 90 degree right-hander with a Recommended Speed of 20 MPH. On rainy days, many a Rental Car driver in too much of a hurry has ended up plowing straight ahead instead of turning, taking out the METERING LIGHT for the other onramp and many 4x4 "KEEP RIGHT" sign posts.

.....(The Maestro's boy, Andrew's Great Idea is to place a Giant 20-foot Catchers Mitt right at the Apex of the curve- where the Rental Cars always plow through. With shock absorbing netting designed to safely stop any wayward rental, this might save more lives than passenger side Air Bags. And it's gotta be cheaper than replacing the Metering Lights and all those 4x4's every rainstorm.)

....."20 MPH" recommended the Yellow Sign at the Sambo Se Airport Exit.

.....Hah! said the Maestro. "Yellow signs aren't mandatory anyway. Hang on."

.....The Maestro took the 20 MPH offramp at merely double the Recommended Speed so he wouldn't scare her, accelerated in second gear through the corner, and down the short straight to the even more exciting 270 degree Right-Hand hairpin curve.

.....Accelerating through the hairpin and up the overpass, the Maestro hit a mere 5500 rpm in second. Shifting into third right at the Top of the hill, he could see that the light at the BOTTOM of the hill was Red. So he said:

....."And these 356 "C" 4-wheel Disk Brakes- boy are they great! Hang on."

.....Having no choice, she hung on.

.....The Maestro hit the Binders and an Invisible Hand rose from Nowhere and firmly pressed against the car and its occupants, stopping it awfully fast. Impressively Fast.

.....Much faster than TRUSTY Rusty had EVER stopped!

.....The Maestro glanced at the Reporter in the passenger seat. She was open-mouthed and hanging onto the grab handle for dear life.

....."Fun, huh?" asked the Maestro.

....."Oh, yea, yes fun, right," said she, a little unconvincingly.

.....The Maestro took it easy the rest of the way, so he wouldn't have to clean the interior of foul smelling liquids/solids.

.....Arriving at the Maestro's spiffed-up shop, he gestured her gently past the Laser Disintegrator guarding the front door and into the Inner Sanctum, the Sanctum Sanctorum


.....He decided he would give her the quickie Introductory Course in 356 Porsche, since clearly it would be impossible to download the Maestro's Experience Data Base to her in an hour. Or ever.

.....He showed her the Books he had written. And the Epic 5-Tape, 10-hour long, Porsche Engine Assembly Video Series that Hollywood could never make.

.....Then he pointed out the Porsche 356 Industrial Engines in all their Pristine Glory, used for Auxiliary Power Units for the F-104 jets during the Cold War- in case the Bear from the East attacked.

.....The Maestro pointed out that ifin one were to go to War, then one wants to go to war with the Best Stuff. That's why Luftwaffe used Porsche Engines for the F-104's APU's. Not VW's.

.....He also pointed out to her on the NATO/Luftwaffe Industrial Engine Controller in the Maestro's Museum the SAME Porsche Oil Temperature GAUGE and REVERSE Light as used in a 356!!!

.....See, a 356 Porsche played a small part in winning the Cold War (assuming that it's really been "won".)

.....After the Porsche Military/Industrial Engine Lesson, the Maestro asked for any Questions from the Audience.

....."So, these Industrial Engines you have here," said the Reporter. "They were used by the Germans during the Second World War?"

....."No, no." Said the Maestro, correcting the student reporter. "Porsche Industrials were used AFTER World War II- During the "Cold War" era, in 1960's and 1970's."

.....Then it was time for a quick course in Forensic Porsche Pathology.

.....He showed her some of the Most Impressively Broken Porsche Parts and Told the Terrible Tales of Tragedy behind each one. Those Failures caused by Nature. Those Failures caused by Man. And those Unmitigated Disasters caused by Ignorant/Stupid Turkeys.

.....And, of course, he showed her The Gold Plated Engine. In its Regal Glory. Even let her hold its Gold-Plated Dipstick in her hand. She seemed impressed.

.....He talked and talked and she wrote and wrote. Things looked Real Good. A-OK. No Problem here, Houston.



.....The Maestro even got to use one of his "most Quotable Quotes"- cough, cough. "These days, there is no way you can tune up a 'Modern' car withOUT a Computer.

.....Ah, but there's Noooooooooo Computer in the WORLD that can tune up a 356 Porsche! ONLY a HUMAN can do it. And that, my dear, is Viva la Difference."

.....After an hour of Porsche Pontification, it was time for the Reporter to go. She had to get on with her life.

.....On the drive back to the Train Station, the Maestro told the Reporter about his Most Unforgettable CHARACTER- the Late, Great, Dean Pfundstein. Dean was the BEST Restorer the Maestro's ever known and taught the Maestro many, many "Tricks".

....."Tricks" like: When you "do" an engine, a transmission, a whatever, you gotta make EVERY part is "nice". For no matter WHAT the part is, nor WHERE it's located, ifin it's not "nice", it'll stand out like a Sore Thumb. Only when EVERYTHING is "nice", doth the eye finally say to the Brain- "Yeah, OK, it IS a pretty good job."

.....As they pulled up to the Train Station, the Maestro was on a roll, telling Dean's favorite Story about using leather for a Porsche Interior from "Bridge of Weir" in England, where the cows are kept in pens with electrified wire, not barb wire so that there be no barb-wire defects in the hides.

.....She seemed as impressed as any vegetarian would be.

....."Yes," said the Maestro. "And when you open the Door on a 356 that's been done in Leather and take a deep breath- it's incredible. It's The Second Greatest Smell in The World."

.....She bit. And asked:

....."OK, so what IS the Greatest Smell in the World"?

.....The Maestro leaned his head over, smiled his slyest of smiles and said- "Well now, what is MY 'Greatest Smell in the World' might not be YOUR "Greatest Smell in the World". Although these days who knows, maybe it is."

.....The Reporter's face immediately got beet-red and she laughed.

.....The Maestro figured he had a nice puff piece nailed.

.....A day or two later, the Reporter called again. A Photographer was coming out to take a picture of the Maestro for inclusion in the Story.

.....Ah, Hell, why not. The Maestro thought.

.....He took this opportunity to ask her:

....."Say if the Story's done, could you fax it or e-mail it to me just to be sure there aren't any embarrassing mistrakes?"

....."Uh, well." said the reporter. "No. I can't do that. That's 'Prior Restraint' of the News."

....."Prior Restraint of the News?" thought the Maestro. "No, I don't mean I want to edit your article or prevent publication or anything like that. After all, I'm a writer too, and I KNOW how much I hate Editors messing with my stuff all the time and constantly leaving OUT the Good Parts. No, I'd just like to check the facts in your Story."

....."Well, said she haughtily. "I'm a pretty good fact-checker."

....."You may well be, but Porsche is an entirely new field and I'd sure like to prevent any embarrassing mistakes. Besides, those Porsche Purists are pretty picky. Remember when you thought that Porsche Industrial Engines were used during World War 2? They'd have died laughing over that."


....."Well, still, like I said. I'm pretty good at fact-checking."

.....The Maestro certainly hoped that would be True.

.....A day or so later, the promised Photographer from the 'Metro' came over to the Maestro's Shop. He was a younger hippie-type, willing to work at a Loco paper for peanuts to get his start. So he was hungrily "creative".

.....At first he was VERY impressed with the Myriad of Porsche Cases that were hanging on the Shop's Wall on hangers formerly used to hold Porsche 4-cam cases and rescued from the brink of bankruptcy.

.....So the photographer took a picture of the Maestro with the Cases on the wall as background.

.....Then he took a picture of the Maestro next to the Gold Plated Super-90 and a "Stock" Engine. That was the one the Maestro liked best.

.....But then the Photographer got a Creative Brainstorm- something he thought NOBODY had ever done before.

.....The photographer wanted the Maestro to climb inside the now-empty engine compartment of Trusty Rusty, Trusty's engine having been taken to satisfy the near-Virgin in Off-White '65 356SC.

.....The Maestro gracefully agreed to climb underneath and peer out of Trusty Rusty's rear, knowing full well that this shot mustave been done 356,000 times in the past. No Matter. Any of the shots were fine- there's no such thing as BAD P.R. Remember?

.....With Great Expectations, the Maestro waited a week for the new edition of the 'Metro' to hit the streets and bubble up in the coffee houses.

.....That Thursday, the Maestro graciously and with no Ulterior Motive whatsoever offered to take Mrs. Maestro out for ice cream on the day the Metro came out. He expected to host an Ice Cream Victory Party.

.....Down to Lost Cathouse he drove in the White SC, and even found a parking place right outside the door of the favorite gelato place that ironically happened to have a stack of new "Metro's' inside.


.....The Maestro grabbed three papers, one for him, one for Mrs. Maestro and one for Andrew who can now read and think, despite the best efforts of Goals 2000 to keep him Fat, Dumb and Ignorant.

.....The Maestro's Article was right in the front of the "Metro", on page 9, and Yes, the Photographer DID use the picture of the studly-looking Maestro, a wry smile on his face, peering out from the back of Trusty Rusty's Engine compartment. The 0/O Combination Plate is clearly visible on Trusty's rear, made reasonably photogenic by the fine art of cropping.

.....The Maestro began reading the article. And immediately noticed something that wasn't quite right. Or true.

.....It started off with the Maestro saying:

..... "A new car is an appliance," says the Maestro, cradling (sic) a right turn near the Airport in his 1965 Porsche 356SC coupe with alarming speed." "Me? I'm looking for a seatbelt in this speeding jalopy, a car which cannot be faulted for lacking charisma."

.....Well, GEEEEEZZZZ Ms. Reporter thought the Maestro, The seatbelt shouldn't have been too hard to find- because it was BUCKLED right across the passenger seat. YOU WERE SITTING on it! Was it the Maestro's fault that she couldn't find her belt with both hands?

.....Uh oh. Not a good start.

.....Oops, she even got WRONG the STREET the Maestro's Shop was on. She called it "Martin Road", but Everyone Knows its Martin AVENUE. So much for "Fact-Checking".


.....Then he got to the next paragraph:

....."HCP is a small, windowless garage only a man-boy could love,..."

.....Well, Hurrrrmp, 'man-boy' indeed" hurrrmpped the Maestro. "Well, woman-child, ifin 2500 Square Feet with 20' ceilings is SMALL, say, compared to your apartment, so be it. But "windowless"? How she could have missed the two Big 10 foot WINDOWS in the front of the Maestro's Shop, the Maestro knows not. Maybe she was mesmerized by the Broken Porsche Parts.

.....But the Real Killer misquote came at the very end of the article, wherein she related HER version of the Fabulous Pfundstein Leather Story.

.....Here is what she said the Maestro said:

....."Course, nothing beats a Porsche. "that smell of Leather interior, that's the Second-Best smell in the world."

....."What's the First? The Maestro goes beet red. "I can't tell you that. Anyway it might be different for you." It's a guy thing I guess.

.....End of Article

.....Now, that's NOT how it happened. SHE was the one whose face got beet-red upon The Realization, NOT the Maestro. After all, he's told that joke more than once before. It was Blushingly Obvious to the Most Casual Observer that boy, was her face red and this was The First Tine SHE had heard the joke. As Tom Lehrer once sung: "Filth is in the Mind of the Beholder". But would she admit her naoveti' in print? Are Taxes too low? Right.

.....The Maestro ate his overpriced ice cream, gathered together a few of the papers for Evidence, and somewhat sadly shuffled back to his "jalopy which cannot be faulted for lacking Charisma".

.....Now he knows WHY lotsa people don't do Interviews. 'Cause the Reporters never seem to get it right. So they get it Wrong. But by then its NEWS. And therefore, thereafter, it's FACT. Even if it's Fiction.

.....The Reporter missed the whole point the Maestro tried to make about 356's. Once the Maestro he tried a long-winded explanation of why he liked 356's to his office-mate at a Large, Generous Electric Company. After hearing the Maestro-to-be praise the Superior, Clever Engineering of the 356 Porsche, fellow engineer and 1965 Corvette owner Jim said: "Why don't you just get to the point? Sports Cars are Fun!"

.....THAT'S the Point.

.....356's are FUN!!!

.....And Next Time, the Maestro will be better prepared!



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