Ed Begley, Jr. (in blue), David Blume (in jacket) and Daryl Hannah with Begley's alcohol-burning Prius. (Jim Motavalli photo)
I loved the second part of Kill Bill, especially the fight sequences, and for a Hollywood movie it had pretty good cars, including a bright yellow Chevy Silverado SS dubbed "The Pussy Wagon" and a black 1980 Trans-Am that Daryl Hannah's eye-patched character Elle Driver got to drive at high rates of speed.
When encountered at the "Alcohol for Sustainable Living" press event in Los Angeles Monday, a non-eye-patched Hannah said that director Quentin Tarantino kept telling her she wasn't driving fast enough. "We were racing through the desert with him aboard, and we came to a 15-foot gully. Quentin shouted, Jump it!' I said, You're crazy, it's only a movie. We'd be killed.'"
The Trans Am (one of two; the better one went to actor Michael Madsen, who got to the lot first -- "that bastard," said Hannah) is now green, believe it or not. It was at the press conference, sporting an alcohol conversion and proving that just about any vehicle (including the motorcycle they had on display) can run on ethanol with only minor modification to make it "flex fuel." Here's Hannah talking about alcohol fuel:
David Blume, author of the book Alcohol Can Be a Gas, was the host of the event at the Petersen Auto Museum, and he's an evangelist for alcohol fuel in many forms. On the roof of the Petersen, Blume, Hannah, Ed Begley, Jr. and Natural Capitalism author Hunter Lovins showed off an alcohol furnace (replacing fuel oil), an alcohol-burning barbecue and an alcohol Prius -- Begley's first one, converted on the spot by the man himself with a socket wrench and a pair of screwdrivers.
Corn ethanol has challenges, but Blume thinks it gets a bum rap. He brings a wider vision to it, imagining a seamless loop in which alcohol is produced from corn, then what's left over -- so-called distiller's grain -- can be fed to animals or to a tank full of tilapia for that matter. Then the dirty fish water can be irrigation for vegetable crops. Archer Daniels Midland did this for many years, Blume said.
Blume also says that, far from sparking a "food vs. fuel" squeeze, corn has actually been in surplus for the last three years. And that does seem to be borne out by agricultural reports. This year is shaping up as a record-breaker.
Begley (who gave me a tour of his ultra-green home as seen on the show Living With Ed), Hannah and Lovins are all equal-opportunity alternative-fuel supporters. They like electric cars, biodiesel and plug-in hybrids, too.
Blume is more of a one-fuel man, but he has a long history of making things work, and has gathered a devoted following in California for the fuel. He says that the state should soon have more than 60 new stations.
The great thing about alcohol fuel is that it can be made domestically (Blume sells small stills) and offset the 60% of our oil that is currently imported from under "their" sand. Blume estimates that if American cars were converted to flex fuel and burned E85 ethanol, we could be over our imported oil addiction in a few years.
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