Sin Bin

 

The other evening, I approached an intersection as the light turned red. A white Dodge Ram 1500 custom van in the right lane caught my eye. As we slowed, I picked up on the silver and blue-gray swirling details air-brushed along the side, below the passenger rows windows. Instantly, “sin bin” popped into my head, along with memories of road-tripping, to a Lou Reed concert in Munich, Germany.

If “sin bin” does not have meaning to you, consider the following:https://i.pinimg.com/736x/90/07/be/9007be091d3b271558584924b60ec3a5--chevy-vans-custom-vans.jpg

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the utilitarian van was customized into a rolling bachelor pad. Think shag carpet and at least swiveling captains chairs, if not a bed in the back. The young man with such a van would surely wear his shirt unbuttoned down to there, likely to display heavy gold chains. The rolling party vehicle was thus a “sin bin.”

In the late 1980s, this was already a cliché, and young lieutenants in West Germany drove whatever they brought from the states, or a used local car, or they bought BMW 3 series, Saabs, or Volvos. But, there was that one guy. He took delivery of a new custom van through the Army Air Force Exchange car buying program. We all ribbed him. What would the fräuleins think of this rolling American stereotype?

Then, that same lieutenant announced that Lou Reed was coming to Munich on his New York album tour. Who was up for a road trip? We would have to buy tickets from scalpers to get into the concert. I was not too proud to pile into the van with two other lieutenants and our now very cool friend. We cruised two hours down the Autobahn to Munich in the slow lane. The scalpers were German, so our papers were in order when we entered the venue.

Lou Reed was determined to play the album straight through, as a tale unfolding through the individual song chapters. There is no such thing as an SFW or CoC compliant version of a live Lou Reed performance, but here is a recording of the live New York Album performance recorded for European TV. It is dark but masterful. There were repeated scattered heckling shouts for the old songs, which would not appear until the encore.

I was reminded of Dylan’s defiant performance of his Gospel Tour, which I saw in Seattle at the historic Paramount Theater. Older fans repeatedly shouted “Lay Lady Lay” like “Freebird” at any other concert. Of course, that wasn’t Dylan’s first rodeo with fandom. He had gone through the same, or worse, back when he went electric, “betraying” the folk fans.

The Lou Reed concert concluded and we bought gas for our sin bin chauffeur, heading back to Schwabach, just south of Nuremberg. We were not traveling in the fast lane, but we were going in style. Braking to a stop in the present day, I saw two words painted in a simple script at the bottom left corner of the left rear door: “Family Wagon.” I should think so, in the town with the oldest and largest Mormon temple in Arizona.

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  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    When I was in college a roommate tried to put a waterbed in his sin bin. Except he never achieved a state of sin while I knew him – in or out of his van. 

    • #1
  2. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    When I was in college a roommate tried to put a waterbed in his sin bin. Except he never achieved a state of sin while I knew him – in or out of his van.

    An unbaffled waterbed? Whole lot of shaking goin’ on — down the road.

    • #2
  3. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    When I was in college a roommate tried to put a waterbed in his sin bin. Except he never achieved a state of sin while I knew him – in or out of his van.

    An unbaffled waterbed? Whole lot of shaking goin’ on — down the road.

    He wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. 

    • #3
  4. Lash LaRoche Inactive
    Lash LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    The most famous sin bin of all:

    • #4
  5. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    The fiancé of the president of our sorority had such a van.  Curfew was 2 am on the weekends.  At midnight, the van would turn into the parking lot.  At 1:55 am, she would step out of the van, walk into the house, and sign-in at 1:59 am on the dot.

    The rest of us would come careening back from wherever, usually late and have to get our roommates to sneak down and open the back door without the house mother knowing.

    Ah, good times!

    • #5
  6. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Late night TV in the late Seventies, especially local TV, had plenty of ads for factory-approved custom conversions you could buy right off a dealer’s lot; “$6,995 and not a penny more for this beautiful custom van!” (Farrah Fawcett lookalike slithers all over the interior and exterior). “Your choice of cassette or 8 track! “Loose pillow” upholstery and velour side panels make this Dodge the tin you’ll love to touch!”

    • #6
  7. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I had a buddy that took the back seat out of his 52 Studebaker convertible. With the seat out it fit a full size double mattress. He would rent the car out for $5.00 a night. It was able to be seen at the local drive-in theatre about 7 nights a week no matter what was showing. He only allowed 10 miles of driving. He lived a couple of miles from the drive-in and the ten allowed for going to get something to eat after the movie. We all knew from how the car was parked if the girl was easy. If it was pulled in forward they were in the back. If it was backed in the space with the trunk up, things were not going well but they could watch the movie.

    • #7
  8. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Late night TV in the late Seventies, especially local TV, had plenty of ads for factory-approved custom conversions you could buy right off a dealer’s lot; “$6,995 and not a penny more for this beautiful custom van!” (Farrah Fawcett lookalike slithers all over the interior and exterior). “Your choice of cassette or 8 track! “Loose pillow” upholstery and velour side panels make this Dodge the tin you’ll love to touch!”

    I missed so much when I was growing up.

    • #8
  9. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Why did the song, “Chevy Van” just pop into my head? :-)

    • #9
  10. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Why did the song, “Chevy Van” just pop into my head? :-)

    But can you get it out? It’s starting to drive crazy, and that’s not all right with me. 

    • #10
  11. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Muleskinner (View Comment):

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Why did the song, “Chevy Van” just pop into my head? :-)

    But can you get it out? It’s starting to drive crazy, and that’s not all right with me.

    MS, I can’t link it now; I’m not at the PC, but I surely intend to when around and about later.  (Maybe playing it will help?) I’m truly sorry for the predicament!

    • #11
  12. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    When I went to a Dylan concert he was dressed as John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever with candy colored spotlights and a harmonica with holder in lieu of an ID badge and three backup singers to remind us that not everyone on a Dylan tour sings through their noses. Very Dylan from Budokan when I was hoping for the Hard Rain edition. The set was completely surreal. I kept looking for Terry Gilliam but he was only there in spirit.

    • #12
  13. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    Old Man Skinner had an old ‘67 Ford van that someone set up as a homemade camper. We  used it when we were working construction a long way from home. One time, the old man sent me home from with the van to get a squeaking wheel bearing checked out. “Drive slow,” he advised, “and you should make it to the shop.” It was about 40 miles home, so I went slow, around 35 or so. About 15 miles from home, a state patrolman pulled me over, “for going too slow.” I explained the situation, but wasn’t getting too far, which might have had more to do with a hard (non-)foul I’d committed against his son in a high school basketball game a couple of months earlier. He complained about the wear on the tires, and I told him it was the bearings, so he felt the hub, and burned his fingers. He asked me if he could search the van, and I told him no. (I was 17, and couldn’t be entirely sure there wasn’t a stray beer in there somewhere, although I didn’t think so.) He looks in the window, and sees the dirty clothes brother Buck left on the passenger seat, and wants to know if I’m alone. He knocked on the doors for a minute and no one answered his call to come out, so he sent me on my way. 

    • #13
  14. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I had a buddy that took the back seat out of his 52 Studebaker convertible. With the seat out it fit a full size double mattress. He would rent the car out for $5.00 a night. It was able to be seen at the local drive-in theatre about 7 nights a week no matter what was showing. He only allowed 10 miles of driving. He lived a couple of miles from the drive-in and the ten allowed for going to get something to eat after the movie. We all knew from how the car was parked if the girl was easy. If it was pulled in forward they were in the back. If it was backed in the space with the trunk up, things were not going well but they could watch the movie.

    That car had a unique look. The previous generation of Studes was the “bullet nose”, a torpedo-like front end with a chrome “spinner” grille, the most popular Studebakers ever made. Their successor for 1952 was supposed to be the (so-called) Raymond Loewy designs, among the most beautiful cars made anywhere in the Fifties at any price. 1952 was also Studebaker’s 100th anniversary; the one time covered wagon manufacturer was America’s oldest vehicle maker. 

    Alas, the body couldn’t be tooled and engineered in time, so the Loewy cars came out for the 1953 model year. They did something shrewd but inexpensive: they grafted a few ’53 design elements on the old bullet nose, creating the one year only “shovel nose”, a rarely seen half and half car. 

    • #14
  15. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    Dodge no longer makes a full size van.  Instead they have this, which is a Fiat design with a new badge.  I think “sin bin” still applies, but more as a commentary on Fiat’s design aesthetic.  I’d swear Fiat took inspiration from the Pontiac Aztec and said “hey, Americans like the Aztec” (no, they didn’t) “and Americans like big vehicles” (yeah, but…. wait, where are you going with this?) “they’ll love this!”  (no, no, no…).

    • #15
  16. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Well, I had one of those in the 70’s, but it just had carpet on the floor and ceiling and paneling on the walls (did it myself on a couple weekends) . We’d put a couple comfy chairs in the back when we went on ski trips. This picture is exactly what it looked like, except it had a little sliding window in the back:

    See the source image

    When I hear “sin bin” this is the only thing comes to mind:

    See the source image

    • #16
  17. Muleskinner Member
    Muleskinner
    @Muleskinner

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    When I hear “sin bin” this is the only thing comes to mind:

    See the source image

    You go to the box … and you feel shame

     

    • #17
  18. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Muleskinner (View Comment):

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Why did the song, “Chevy Van” just pop into my head? :-)

    But can you get it out? It’s starting to drive crazy, and that’s not all right with me.

    MS, I can’t link it now; I’m not at the PC, but I surely intend to when around and about later. (Maybe playing it will help?) I’m truly sorry for the predicament!

    As promised, a link to the song

     

    • #18
  19. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    “We’ll get Edward to break in! Razor Blades would do anything for you. You don’t want a van like Denny’s with a mattress in the back?”

    • #19
  20. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    A sin bin needs one of these

     

    • #20
  21. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Muleskinner (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    When I hear “sin bin” this is the only thing comes to mind:

    See the source image

    You go to the box … and you feel shame

    Gee, I’ve always thought it was the confessional that made you feel that way… :-)

     

    • #21
  22. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Muleskinner (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    When I hear “sin bin” this is the only thing comes to mind:

    See the source image

    You go to the box … and you feel shame

    Gee, I’ve always thought it was the confessional that made you feel that way… :-)

    It’s been many a moon since I went to that particular sin bin.

     

    • #22
  23. Bill Nelson Inactive
    Bill Nelson
    @BillNelson

    Sin bin is a term for the “penalty box” in rugby.

     

    • #23

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