One of the questions we get asked frequently is “Who is this Dennis guy?”
For the uninitiated, Dennis is what we refer to as a “regular” on the site and he’s a straight-ahead guy with straight-ahead opinions.
Dennis first surfaced when I contacted him about his beloved 1927 Model T –I asked him a few questions about the T and his answers were more of a philosophy than a car story.
Don’t get me wrong-he’s a highly technical guy and knows cars inside and out but he also knows how to turn a phrase.
We have a section at the end of most articles reserved for comments and this is entirely due to Dennis.
We’d set him up with a topic and he’d knock it out of the ballpark in response so the natural reaction was to publish his comments.
At the time, we strayed into non-automotive areas so the subjects varied.
After that, it turned out he could wax philosophically on anything we pitched but here are some classic “Dennis-isms”.
But first…a brief biography in Dennis’s own words…
“OK, I’ll bite. By nature, I’m pretty private and reclusive, I wouldn’t ordinarily do something like this. I didn’t realize I’d said anything that remarkable?
Let’s see, who is Dennis?
A retired contractor who used to build and maintain gas stations in So. Cal. for a living.
A USAF Viet Nam Vet whose Mrs. was a Women’s Army Corps. Viet Nam (era) Vet, (not all the women of the early 70s wore “Love beads”, a very rare few wore “Dog Tags”).
College educated under the GI Bill (a “Baby Burner”, with a telecommunications/Journalism Degree.
A born “Hot Rodder”, some of my earliest memories are of riding around in a Flathead powered “T Bucket Roadster” that belonged to friends of my parents, back in the 50s.
I’ve never met a car that couldn’t go faster (or get worse gas mileage), with the possible exception of our present family car. A new Chevy Impala that’s a computerized nightmare. I can’t even find the spark plugs in this thing? I’ll leave fixing it to the dealer.
My present “collector car” is a 1927 Ford Model T, Tudor Sedan. I bought it to build a 50’s era (time capsule) Hot Rod like those of my early youth but it was so complete and original, an 84-year-old “Used Car”, I just didn’t have the heart to cut it up. But…being a “Hot Rodder”, I couldn’t just leave it alone either? Lets put it this way, it still has a ‘Model T’ engine in it but the only thing ‘stock’ about it is the engine block and the crankshaft. It will do 55+ MPH but you start feeling the hand of God tapping you on the shoulder a little above 40.”
That’s the Reader’s Digest version of Dennis Halpin but here, without further ado, are some handpicked “Dennis-isms”:
Do yourself a favor and read these before this guy gets his own TV show-you can say you knew him way back when…
DENNIS: “Canada must be a quiet place in the winter. All the Canadians are here in Florida. Can’t say I’ve met one I didn’t like. They must still teach manners in Canadian schools.”
On the Honda Element
DENNIS: “Hey, the Element is ideal for the “Fred Flintstones” of the world. The “Environmentalists” who would like to take society back to the pre-oil “Stone Age”. Well, everybody but themselves, of course”.
On Award shows
DENNIS: ” Were the Oscars on TV? I must have missed them. Guess they were up against re-runs of CSI or something interesting on The Fishing Channel.”
DENNIS: “The Grammys are still on TV? I must have missed them in the last decade or so. Maybe they were up against something entertaining, like the Weather Channel.”
On highly paid athletes and their bad behavior
DENNIS: “Agreed. These high paid sports figures should keep their “Cheap Shots” to the hookers and drugs they never seem to get enough of off the field of the game.”
DENNIS: “‘I’ve got no sympathy for professional sports figures at all.If you can’t manage to “Cope” for 5 million dollars a year, maybe you should pack up your guns, kiss all the little “Trophy Groupies” good bye, get in your Lamborghini and go look for an easier job.”
DENNIS: “One thing you might to take into consideration along with the “Cave Man” analogy. Any “modern man” who thinks he’s clever enough to mess around with more than one woman at a time, married or not, has way too much “disposable income”. A situation that especially for celebrities, is self correcting.”
DENNIS: “Being the Dinosaur that I am, this article reminds me of a song. “I live in hotels, tear out the walls. I have accountants pay for it all”. If you’re going to cater to “wasted” celebrities that act like idiots for the sake of the cash, expect a bunch of rich, pampered, egocentric, CHEAP idiots and expect to FIGHT for the cash.. The pampered class, especially sports figures who didn’t make their money with their intellect, are the first to act badly and the last to think their behavior will make it into the Tabloids. Can you say “Tiger Woods”? If you make your considerable fortune in the public eye, you have little to complain about when the “perks” of your scandalous behavior end up in the public eye as well. The same thing applies to cars. If you’re going to drive something with “flames” on the fenders, a blower sticking out of the hood and “wheelie” bars on the back, you’re going to attract attention and sometimes, that attention may have flashing red and blue lights on it. It just comes with the turf. If you’re not personally responsible enough to deal with it, buy a Prius.”
On today’s journalism
DENNIS: First rule of News, “If it bleeds, it leads”, that’s the way it’s always been. Now days, ‘If it’s sleaze it leads” has taken over the #1 spot”
On Jane Fonda
DENNIS: “You were doing just fine till you got here. “I liked Jane Fonda in the Eighties. By then she was already a cougar, but one of the fittest felines known to mankind. She inspired an entire generation of women into a serious fitness plan. And Jane didn’t just inspire guys-she really inspired guys. She “really inspired a generation of guys all right”. My generation will never, ever forget her. DJH, 315th Air Division, USAF Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, Viet Nam 66-67
On a New York City terrorist suspect
DENNIS: “Do you think we would have seen half the coverage of this if this inept Punk if he had tried this anyplace else but that “Metrosexual Freak Show” of a city that happens to be the home of all the major TV news networks?”
On the late Doors lead singer Jim Morrison
DENNIS: “Jim Morrison was simply the right guy for the right time. It was the heyday of the “If it feels good, do it” generation of self absorbed “Baby Boomers”. He lasted a little longer in the art of self- destruction than those without the money and celebrity did.
There was no “Genius” involved and all good (and bad) things come to an end, well almost. There’s still a few around who enjoy going back to the days of Whine and Hosers while watching a gray haired Joe Walsh in a 3 piece suit and thick glasses sing “My Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don’t drive”. The rest of us just wonder how we survived in the first place. Especially those of us who spent our time IN Viet Nam instead of on the streets of America, drunk and stoned, protesting it”
DENNIS: “Gave all that up in 1971, got tired of waking up in jail”.
On high school reunions
DENNIS: “When I went to my 20 year high school reunion back in 1983, I sure didn’t remember going to high school with all those fat, bald headed old guys?
On Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America”
DENNIS: “No matter who sings it, I still prefer “God BLESS America” to “God DAMN America”.
On rock star “cause guy” Bono and U2
DENNIS: “The only “U-2″ I recognize has long slender wings and belongs to the Air Force”.
On the G-20 circus in Toronto
DENNIS: “They’re punk spoiled college kids who play too much “World of Warcraft” in between watching reality TV shows. They know the cops are forced to treat them like white folks while they can destroy anything they chose without consequence. A little AK-47 magic would send them all running for the dorms and back to the usual idiotic college destruction. From now on they should hold all these virtually useless “G-whatever” Summits in Moscow or Tehran”.
On Dirty Harry’s 44 Magnum
DENNIS:“I can’t help but think of that line every time I look at my S&W Mod. 29 and yes, it really is a “Hand Cannon”. The Movie Channel had a night of Eastwood movies last night, had to watch em”.
On Dennis Hopper’s death
DENNIS: “I met Hopper, Fonda and David Crosby back in 1990 when I was part of the land speed record effort of the Easy Riders Magazine streamliner. World’s fastest motorcycle (322.149 MPH) for 12 years. I won’t speak ill of the dead, but frankly I’m surprised any of these guys lived past 40”.
On society’s no-fault child rearing
DENNIS: “You sure hit it on the head there. Actions used to have consequences. Surviving those actions and the related consequences was what built character. This is a character-less society. For the young, everything can be palmed off on “autism”, or “race”, or “poverty” or “location”, there’s a “justification” for everything. Welcome to the end result of the “if it feels good, do it, flower power attitude” of our youth.
On hi-tech phones
DENNIS: “I used to have a really great cell phone. It made phone calls. Unfortunately, the method it used to make those calls became obsolete and I had to replace it. The replacement does e-mails, text messages, pictures and God knows what else? I’ve never sent a text message in my life and I had to have the option deleted from my phone by the phone service provider because I was being charged for incoming text messages I don’t even know how to display? The camera has taken one picture. It happens to be of the “Ford” emblem in the middle of the steering wheel on my Explorer. I guess I was holding it wrong one day? I have yet to ever use up the “free minutes” provided with my account. If my cell phone rings, it means somebody needs to talk to me real bad, like on the 10th of last month when my 89 year old mother died”.
On best movie endings
DENNIS: “Soylent Green” Read and follow label instructions”.
On dogs and cats
DENNIS:” You hit it right on the button. I’m not a dog person, they require love and attention and they give it in kind. I’ve always had cats. You can go away whenever you want as long as your house has a cat door. If they get hungry they will go beg at the neighbor’s house or find something to kill. When a cat purrs and rubs your leg it’s not being affectionate, it’s simply identifying property, it’s property. The whole cat family is very lazy by nature, they don’t blow a calorie they don’t have to. Cats sleep away an easy half of their life. Cats are very smart for something with a brain the size of a walnut, they can figure out how to get into anything you don’t want them in and they don’t take “No!” for an answer. A squirt gun is the only law they respect. My cat actually looks at me when she is going to get into something she knows I don’t want her in and if I’m not already reaching for the squirt gun on the coffee table, she goes ahead.
DENNIS: “There is no reason not to conclude that any species that has the skills of space/time travel would see us and our planet in exactly the same light as the Spaniards saw the Inca and Aztecs, as something to exploit. There is no reason not to believe that even if they were benevolent, they would also carry bio-hazards that could depopulate this planet.”
On James Cameron’s movie Avatar
DENNIS: “Ya know , I’ve heard all the same things, It’s a drop dead special effects movie with the same tired ol “make love not war, save the whales” plot that people like James Cameron just can’t seem to get enough of. The same filthy rich “Al Gore”, hypocritical, Hollywood producers and entertainers that wouldn’t waste a “carbon credit” to “green” up their own lifestyle. I won’t waste a hundred bucks on an evening to go sit in a movie theater to see anything! Especially a movie theater full of the kind of people that worship these phony SOB’S. I’m sure it will be on “Comcast on demand” soon enough”.
On David Letterman when he brought retro-rock band The Cars to his stage
DENNIS: “Flash backs from his coke fueled, metrosexual, “Disco” past. With his ratings going in the tank more each week, it was probably the cheapest “has been” band his keepers could afford.
On growing up as a baby boomer
DENNIS: “Oh how did we “baby boomers” ever survive? With all cautionary procedures going on these days, my generation should all be dead. We played in trees and often fell out of them, we swam in Polio infested canals with “endangered species” minnows, we played with guns, sometimes real ones! The rest of the time we played with sticks (you could poke your eye out). Our parents all smoked cigarettes, the “second hand smoke” should have killed us all off by now. We never heard of a seat belt, much less a “car seat”. The family car put out copious amounts of “smog”, there were no catalytic converters, air bags, shoulder harnesses, padded dash boards and all this stuff we can’t seem to drive without today. Television was a family treat that went off the air at 11PM, we could actually exist without it, rather than being “out of touch” if we aren’t carrying one around in our pocket. Oh, how did my generation survive at all.”
On traffic altercations
DENNIS:”I guess it really boils down to if you value your life more than I value my car. If I create a traffic “situation” I’ll apologize for it. If you get out and start kicking dents in my car, don’t be surprised if I get out and start kicking dents in your head.”
On John Wayne
DENNIS: “My step-dad had a life sized cardboard statue of John Wayne in his office. The kind you used to see in the lobby of a theatre. That’s the way I was raised, “no excuses”. It took a long time to sink in. I thank God every day he lived long enough for me to one day slap him on the back and say, “Never thought I’d grow up to be the normal one, did you”.
On Suicide bombers
DENNIS: “All I have to say is that these Morons are sure going to be surprised when they reach Allah’s gate and find out that there is a misprint in the Koran. It’s not “72 Virgins”, it’s 72 Virginians, pissed off, MALE, “Redneck”, Virginians”.
On Susan Boyle-suddenly famous Scottish singer
DENNIS:”I think Miss Boyle would have been perfectly happy to take her singing prize and go home. I’ll bet that before she sang her last note, the “Extreme Make-Over Show” was on the phone convincing her that she should come on their show (for their financial advantage, more than hers) to show how they could make frumpy, old, average ladies look spiffy. Then of course, World News Tonight saw a possible ratings advantage by inviting the new media darling to answer all kinds of inane questions far outside her field of expertise.
It’s very easy for the average mortal to get swept up in media attention. Ask “Joe the Plumber”, all he did was ask a question. The media is a meat grinder, seize on a piece of “meat” and grind it into obscurity. I’m sure it’s hard for the average person to measure 15 minutes, in a 24 hour “News Cycle”.
On Bonobo Chimpanzees-the “make love not war” apes of the natural world
DENNIS: “If I remember correctly, humans tried that back during the Hippie, “Summer of Love” days in the late 60’s but it didn’t work. Of course, Chimps don’t do drugs”
On the slang term “Dude”
DENNIS: “Dude” still doesn’t compute in my vocabulary but that’s because I’m one of those from the “Hep Cat” generation.”
DENNIS: “A “Rock-N-Roll” music idol who got married before he had children, did a stretch in the military and cut his teeth on gospel music. You have to be my age to remember something like that”.
On Airport Security
DENNIS: “The last time I flew anywhere outside the US was in the Air Force, in a C-130, over the not so friendly skies of Viet Nam, providing “Beans and Bullets” to my “Grunt Bro’s” on the ground and the only bombs we had to worry about, were waiting for us in places under attack, like Ke Sanh and Kam Duc.
We don’t have to worry about some Muslim slicing our throats on an airplane, we’re slicing the throat of our air transportation industry with all of these stop gap, reactionary, “feel good” measures like scanning little ol ladies, children or Swedish fashion models. (wait a minute, I might be OK with that last one).
All the indicators were already there. Muslim male, between 18 and 35, no luggage, one way cash ticket, no valid Visa, already a “known” potential Jihadi whose own daddy was concerned enough about his radical views to actually contact the American Embassy! Does anybody actually think we are going to “scan” these guys? They have “rights” you know! And if you don’t think they do, please explain to me why the present administration is sending Kalhid Sheik Mohamad to NY for a “Dog & Pony Show” civilian trail and this latest guy is in a civilian jail instead of being down at “Gitmo”, being subjected to “evil American torture” like having to listen to “Sweet Home Alabama” till his Koran curls up and dies.
Until we are ready to get off this “politically correct” bandwagon and PROFILE those who are the most likely to do us harm, we’re spinning our wheels on the “War On Terror” or is it “Man Caused Disasters”, Our Department of Homeland Security Director can’t even manage to get that much figured out.
OK, “Rant” off. I know return you to your regularly scheduled E-Mails”.
On Male-Female Dynamics
DENNIS: “I know I’m going to catch some Krap for this but I’m going to do it anyway. Last Friday my daughter, who will be celebrating “her first” 39th birthday next month, clipped the back corner of a big truck with her Chevy SUV. It was a minor hit and she really wasn’t expecting to see any significant damage when she got out to look at it. That’s not the way it goes with these modern vehicles with the plastic lights, grilles and bumpers. Once she got a look at it, she called Daddy to the accident scene to if she could even drive it. The body shop wrote her an estimate of over ELEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! today. Now here’s the part that’s going to get me in trouble.
Proper accident procedure for the 21st century woman:
1. Call hubby. 2. Call daddy. 3. LOAD PICTURES OF THE DAMAGE ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE FROM YOUR BLACKBERRY. 4. Call the law.”
On Tribute Bands
DENNIS: “Lest ye forget The Eagles. They still put on a pretty good show. But ya gotta admit, watching a gray haired Joe Walsh in a 3 piece suit, wearing glasses, singing “My Maserati does 185”, looks more like a case of Alzheimer’s than a tribute to rebellion.
On Pernell “Adam Cartwright” Robert’s death
DENNIS: OK, another TV star “croaked”, his family has my usual sympathies and maybe he should have got a bigger spread in the press.
Another man died Wed. who got almost no mention at all. He fought for “Truth Honor and the American Way” too but he did it under some pretty overwhelming circumstances.
On South Park
DENNIS: “Trey Parker and Matt Stone the creators of South Park are nothing but a couple of Tofu gulping, Starbuck’s drinking “Metrosexuals” who have never stuffed their “Man Bags” in anything with more guts than a Toyota Prius. I quit watching the South Park and Family Guy garbage, years ago”.
On being compared to Mark Twain
DENNIS:“The comparison to Mark Twain is certainly kind. If at all, I’d be the ‘minimum wage’ version. I’ve always had a talent for sticking my nose into controversy, had it broke a couple times too.
“Notoriety” is a hard taskmaster and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s got its perks and it has it’s ‘pokes’ too. We’ll see how this “Dennis-ism’s” thing goes. Probably the best thing I like about the Internet is the fact that ‘sanctuary’ is only a mouse click away”.
Jerry Sutherland mystarcollectorcar.com
We’ve gone to primarily car oriented editorials since the summer of 2010 but if you want to see more of them here’s the link – https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/2-features/editorials.html
BOB:”Dennis sounds like a hell of an interesting fellow. Some of the quotes are priceless. I was about 5yrs behind him but experienced many of the same things he did. A lot of guys in that age range think there were only 2 camps. Either you we…re a patriotic god fearing flag waving american or you were a long hair dirty hippie. That’s far from the way it was. There were a lot of guys in college with long hair, bell bottom jeans who didn’t particularly want to go to Vietnam but would have gone if called. They make it out to be more black and white than it was. In college I worked two jobs so I could afford a 442 convertible and a triumph motorcycle. Both used of course. I might have looked like a dirty hippie freak to some but I loved my country and would have gone to Vietnam in a heart beat if called. It’s been a pet peeve of mine all these years. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND GOD BLESS THE TROOPS”.
BOB:”Well that was quite a rant! And when I went back and reread the editorial on Dennis he actually didn’t have much to say about the Vietnam era. or the perception of the times. I didn’t realize that it still must be an issue for me. I was a…ll set to enlist after college and then President Nixon came up with the lottery system. My birthday put me at 358 out of 365 I knew I’d never be called and the war was winding down, truth be told I didn’t want to get knocked off just when they were reaching an agreement in Paris. I never knew it bothered me that much. Sorry I went off like I did. I apologize to anyone who might take offense. ANYBODY WANT TO TALK ABOUT CARS?
DENNIS:”To Bob:That wasn’t a “rant” my friend. That’s a perfectly acceptable opinion to me. Most of the kids in college back then, went there to get an education. (I wish I could say the same for some of the professors). I went to college after I got out of the Air Force. I would have been perfectly happy to close the door on Viet Nam and move on but that choice wasn’t available to me in college.
It was about 1970 and “Nam” was the issue of the day on campus. I had one professor who couldn’t get his facts straight. He kept making statements about the war that I knew from personal experience, were factually incorrect. Once in a while, I’d correct him. Finally one day he got frustrated and said “How do you know? You ever been there?” I answered, “Yes, I just spent 21 months in South East Asia and a year of that in Viet Nam in Uncle Sam’s Air Force”.
From that day forward, when he went off on one of his “Rants”, he’d point at me and say, “I guess I’d better check my facts with The Baby Burner”. I needed that class to complete my degree, so I just had to take it. The “kids” (and they were “kids” to me, even if I was only a few years older, after what I’d been through), looked up to this guy as ‘an authority’. To me, he was an arrogant, ignorant, socialist, Pig and the “Poster Child” for what I’d been fighting against in the first place.
To this day, if I met this SOB on the street, I’d ‘drop him’ like a bad habit. “Viet Nam” will never go away for me because there’s still one battle left. The battle to see that my young “Brothers and Sisters” come home to a much better “Welcome Home” than we who fought in Viet Nam got.
Now, as far as the “talk about cars” comment, I told Jerry when he said he wanted to do this that it was going to turn a “Car Site” into a “Political Blog” but it’s his site and he can do as he pleases. He did cover his butt in the introduction about ‘non-car topics’ though.
I’ve already e-mailed the article to my kids and anybody who cares and as far as I’m concerned, the sooner we get back to “cars”, the better.