Where I live in the suburbs of Los Angeles there is a small – admittedly very small – chance I will be shot at while driving or riding in a car on the freeway. For reasons not clear to me, some young men enjoy shooting at other young men. Some even enjoy shooting at strangers. I am getting pretty tired of all the violence in our culture! One of my solutions for the freeway shooters is to give them their own freeway. This would be a toll road where one pays for the privilege of smashing and damaging other cars and even harming the cars’ occupants. It is likely that my fussy rules – “No Smashing or Squirting Above 30 MPH” – would be ignored by drivers who are already prone to breaking rules. The toll booth operator would look for the words “Road Violence Certified” on the driver’s license and require the driver to sign a waiver exempting other drivers from responsibility for property damage to his car, bodily injury or death to his person or passengers. The toll road would be walled off from nearby bedroom communities, though the sound of screeching tires, and violent thudding would be audible from backyards at all hours. Perhaps at times gunfire would be heard. If this sounds like science fiction, I can attest that while I live in a “good” neighborhood of Los Angeles, one that is relatively safe, it adjoins a “bad” neighborhood where the sound of gunshots, especially at night, is not uncommon. The existence of this special freeway would of course stimulate a small industry devoted to the design of protective grating, cladding, and roll bars, as well as offensive weapons that would be guaranteed to dent vehicles or ruin paint jobs. The least offensive weapon would be the squirt cannon. Some cannons would be oversized versions of a child’s squirt gun, while others would be powerful and might be capable of shooting liquids that peel car paint. Perhaps there would be participants – new to Car Wars – who would naively think it fun to bring the entire family along for an afternoon at the Car Wars Toll Road. That would be the last time they brought the wife and kids! Here the car owner is shown filling his squirt cannon for the first time. Designing a vehicle that could inflict harm, yet remain relatively unharmed itself would be a challenge. My sketches explore both offensive and defensive modifications. The latter include window bars, cladding, heavy armor and spiky projections from a car’s body. A Bonger Car, named for the sound it makes when its “bonger” arm smashes a car’s reinforced metal roof, would dent or smash in the roof of a nearby vehicle, but unless it was protected in some way, it would be easily damaged in a retaliatory attack. The protected Bonger Car may look silly, but it sustains less damage than when unprotected. Exiting the car following an afternoon at the Car Wars may require outside assistance.
Visit Steven M. Johnson at his website.