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фантомски дискови!
September 20, 2009 2:23 AM   Subscribe

1979 .Belgrade. A white Porsche 911. A natural born driver. A brutal secret police force. The same city square every night for 2 weeks. The Belgrade Phantom - one hell of a story.

For two weeks in 1979, a mysterious thief drove a stolen Porsche 911 through the heart of Tito's Belgrade. Every night, he would circle a certain square at least once. The police force couldn't catch him - soon they had orders to shoot to kill. He phoned into radio shows to let them know he was still coming. People began to gather to cheer him on. Why? Some thought it was a turbocharged high speed protest of Tito's regime, some thought he had been beaten by the police and wanted revenge. Some even thought he brought a certain girl back a rose from the square every night. No matter why he did it, the people loved him. When the police finally slowed him down, they held them back long enough for him to slip away.

What happened next? Well...not everything has a happy ending (scroll down).
posted by concreteforest (38 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting tale, thanks for sharing.
posted by maxwelton at 3:08 AM on September 20, 2009


That's a great story! I'm still not clear on what happened between the destruction of the Porsche and the driver's end, but I'm going to google...
posted by CCBC at 3:37 AM on September 20, 2009


"I've got a trig midterm tomorrow, and I'm being chased by Tito's totalitarian regime!"
posted by steef at 3:48 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great story, and great post. Very well put together forest. :)
posted by smoke at 4:22 AM on September 20, 2009


Once again, the blue alerts me to filmIwannawatch but never heard of. Thanks concreteforest.
posted by dabitch at 8:13 AM on September 20, 2009


Earlier today I was just thinking about how much society has changed since Smokey and the Bandit. I remember how ordinary citizens considered it completely normal and reasonable to tip off oncoming cars about speed traps you had just passed with a simple flash of the lights. Now we have internalized the man we used to stick it to.

And what does metafilter cough up? A reckless speeding car thief who came to symbolize romantic anti-totalitarian protest.
posted by srboisvert at 9:00 AM on September 20, 2009


I remember how ordinary citizens considered it completely normal and reasonable to tip off oncoming cars about speed traps you had just passed with a simple flash of the lights.

I just did this yesterday, and was saved by someone else flashing me just last week. Reports of this behaviour's death are apparently greatly exaggerated.
posted by Aquaman at 9:15 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember how ordinary citizens considered it completely normal and reasonable to tip off oncoming cars about speed traps you had just passed with a simple flash of the lights. Now we have internalized the man we used to stick it to.

I just did this yesterday, and was saved by someone else flashing me just last week. Reports of this behaviour's death are apparently greatly exaggerated.


It's still in practice in my neck of the woods too, especially on lonely country roads where it's easy to get lulled into speeding along in the emptiness, only to find that a sheriff's deputy has set up shop just around the bend.

Hell, I'm the wife of a police officer and I reject "the Man" just as much as anyone else does, and I don't think that we, as a society at large, have stopped collectively protecting each other from authority-related hassles. The Bushies may have wanted us to believe that it was patriotic to tattle on our friends and neighbors, but I don't think that kind of mindset ever really caught on (small populations of paranoia junkies notwithstanding).
posted by amyms at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


srboisvert: "reasonable to tip off oncoming cars about speed traps"

Enforcing speed laws is probably the one thing police do that saves the most lives.

Speeding is not "sticking it to the man", as much as it is homicidal selfishness.

You want to be rebellious? Run a Tor relay.
posted by idiopath at 10:47 AM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Speeding is not "sticking it to the man", as much as it is homicidal selfishness.

So if I'm doing 65 in a 55 on an otherwise empty country road, I'm suddenly homidical? Wow, way to see the world in black and white.

I don't think anyone is saying that it's okay to be reckless, or that the act of speeding alone is "sticking it to the man." I think the gist here is the very common practice of cruising along under safe road conditions (i.e. we're not talking about the maniacal idiots who dart in and out of heavy traffic at 90 mph).

The "sticking it to the man" part comes into play when we warn our fellow travellers about speed traps. No one wants to get a day-ruining, budget-busting ticket for going 10 miles over the limit. And yeah, you could say "Hey, if you're speeding, you deserve what you get!" but I think there's more situational context to it than that.
posted by amyms at 11:08 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


amyms: "So if I'm doing 65 in a 55 on an otherwise empty country road, I'm suddenly homidical? Wow, way to see the world in black and white."

If I wanted to maximize the chances I was individually responsible for someone else's violent death, and minimize my chances of being held accountable for it, speeding would be a good start.

If you are going to make a principled stand against authoritarianism, convenience seems the most petty and tawdry of causes to put up on your banner.
posted by idiopath at 11:14 AM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


If I wanted to maximize the chances I was individually responsible for someone else's violent death, and minimize my chances of being held accountable for it, speeding would be a good start.

I think you're conflating safe speeders and dangerous speeders (and yes, there is a difference). Here's a collection of research that shows the flaws in your black-and-white thinking.

If you're going to take a principled stand against speeding, committing a logical fallacy in arguing your point seems the most petty and tawdry of ways to do it.
posted by amyms at 12:16 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give me convenience or give me death.

There is much more evidence for high speeds being dangerous than low speeds. Most of the low speed to fatality correlation is caused by the fact that turning is a more dangerous maneuver than going straight, and people slow down for turns.
posted by idiopath at 12:32 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


C'était un Rendez-Vous
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on September 20, 2009


"There is much more evidence for high speeds being dangerous than low speeds.

So, wouldn't the logical thing to do be limit the speeds of cars to say, 5 mph? I mean, you will save more lives that way.
posted by UseyurBrain at 1:06 PM on September 20, 2009


UseyurBrain: "wouldn't the logical thing to do be limit the speeds of cars to say, 5 mph"

Take a look at this chart, from this article. Going 70 mph has a .9 (90%) probability of driver fatality in a crash. Going 60 has a .5 (50%) probability. That last 10mph is a huge jump.
posted by idiopath at 1:12 PM on September 20, 2009


"Take a look at this chart, from this article. Going 70 mph has a .9 (90%) probability of driver fatality in a crash. Going 60 has a .5 (50%) probability. That last 10mph is a huge jump."

So... a fifty percent chance of driver fatality is acceptable and a ninety percent chance is unacceptable?

According to that chart it seems to me that the speed limit should be set at a maximum of around 15 to 20 mph.

OR.. we could just all accept that driving a car is an inherently dangerous activity and leave it up to individuals to assess how much risk they wish to assume.

Once you start gaging your behavior by statistics you're a damned soul anyway...

Stay at home or ride the bus... an automobile is not for the likes of you.
posted by orbis23 at 1:31 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


orbis23: "leave it up to individuals to assess how much risk they wish to assume."

Everyone on the road determines the risk shared by everyone else on the road. Just as it is reasonable to establish a maximum safe level of alcohol in a driver's blood, it is reasonable to establish a maximum safe speed.

Since I am too much of a damned soul to leave the house and risk being hit by a car driven by a Real Man like you, would you mind picking up some groceries for me? Thanks in advance.
posted by idiopath at 1:53 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Raw speed doesn't kill, except in certain specific circumstances (e.g., doing 80 around a tight curve). Speed differential, on the other hand, is a terrible beast, and makes no bones about whether you're going significantly faster or significantly slower than the other traffic: reduce the time people have to react, and nasty accidents ensue.

And to get back on topic: I want to see this film.
posted by ubernostrum at 1:57 PM on September 20, 2009


ubernostrum: "Raw speed doesn't kill"

Most fatalities are single cars going off the road. Fatalities increase at a rate following speed to the third power. You all love driving fast, good for you, congratulations and all that. Try not to die.
posted by idiopath at 2:01 PM on September 20, 2009


Stay at home or ride the bus... an automobile is not for the likes of you.

Did somebody give you a MeFi account as a gift?
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:32 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Most fatalities are single cars going off the road.

Not exactly homicidal selfishness when you just kill yourself, is it?
posted by entropic at 3:11 PM on September 20, 2009


No, more like natural selection in action.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:18 PM on September 20, 2009


I should have posted about a train...
posted by concreteforest at 3:45 PM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sorry for the stupid derail here, guys.

It is funny how simple immature or criminal rule-breaking can be a revolutionary symbol. I mean stealing a car and driving it too fast is hardly a political act in most circumstances, unless maybe a nihilist one, but nihilism hasn't been much of a political movement for a while now.

Of course it is a symbol, we had a woman who defiantly sat down in the wrong seat on the bus and refused to move, here in the US. The real power is in the large numbers of people that come stand up for the simple rebellion, and make it a flag for a movement.

This phenomenon is pretty cynically exploited here in the US, where advertisers tell us that burping out loud, wearing revealing clothes, drinking alcoholic beverages and driving cars with poor gas mileage are defiant proof of our freedom and individuality. Where every political candidate needs to hold up their anecdotal example of the citizen who is oppressed by the status quo (because no matter your party, here in the US, the other guys are the status quo). We can buy single serve packages of rebellion from a drive through window, while scoffing at the attention whores who stand on the sidewalk holding signs with political slogans on them. And I think this is especially important to remember when one's own party is in power.
posted by idiopath at 3:50 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is just a fantastic story. Like C'était un Rendez-Vous meets the French Resistance, except in Serbia.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:26 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I remember how ordinary citizens considered it completely normal and reasonable to tip off oncoming cars about speed traps you had just passed with a simple flash of the lights."

I do this regularly and, in fact, did it today. Our local police force hs spent an INSANE amount of money on the most stealthy police cars I have ever seen and, for what? Revenue. It irks me to no end.
posted by bz at 9:05 PM on September 20, 2009


The real power is in the large numbers of people that come stand up for the simple rebellion, and make it a flag for a movement.

I love listening to lectures from Americans about what constitutes a truly revolutionary act.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:03 PM on September 20, 2009


So what constitutes a revolutionary act then, other than sarcasm?
posted by idiopath at 11:10 PM on September 20, 2009


Apparently only British sarcasm constitutes true revolution. I am soooo chastised.
posted by bz at 11:49 PM on September 20, 2009


In a time of Metafilter seriousness, sarcasm is a revolutionary act.
posted by amyms at 12:31 AM on September 21, 2009


In the UK car drivers have pretty much stopped flashing each other - it's just van and lorry drivers who do it. Why? Because the police like to lurk near speed traps in unmarked cars trying to catch people tipping others off.

Which is all pretty stupid when they're trying to argue that they're not 'speed' cameras, but 'safety' cameras. You'd have thought that if DriverA realised the road isn't safe (because of a 'safety' camera), it was their duty to inform drivers coming the other way that not only is the road ahead not safe, but that some prat has parked a Vito van on the side of the road, just to make it a little more dangerous...

Anyway, why are we having this argument here...? Aren't all "cars are dangerous" arguments supposed to be limited to bike threads...?
posted by twine42 at 2:30 AM on September 21, 2009


Well, here are a few data points.

The speed limit that is safe for a road can be determined by a "speed study." This basically determines what the 85'th percentile of drivers think is a reasonable speed. This is generally accepted as the best way to do things as if you match the speed limit to the safe speed, there is less of a differential between drivers.

What speed trap municipalities do is either a) purposefully set the speed well below the 85'th percentile or b) exploit an area that was set this way for some other political reason.

Enforcing prudent speed limits in a populated area is a noble and good cause.

Enforcing speed limits that were set at an unnaturally low level is revenue enforcement.

Unnaturally low speed limits cause accidents as they increase the speed differential a vastly more significant measure of safety or lack thereof.

When most people on a road speed, the limit is set wrong. When there are a few people that speed recklessly, they should be ticketed. The police should never be able to just randomly pick people out of the normal flow of traffic and issue citations, which is pretty much the way they have it set up now. Revenue enforcement, nothing to do with safety.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 7:27 AM on September 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Enforcing speed laws is probably the one thing police do that saves the most lives.

This was just touched upon, and yes, preventing excessive speeding certainly saves lives, but the fact is that most speed enforcement is not designed, first and foremost, for lifesaving, but for revenue generation.

This is why you see things like speed traps at the bottom of hills and speed limits that drop on roads for no apparent reason just before a speed trap.

Most people can recognize that someone driving dangerously fast is a threat, and I've been passed by my fair share of drivers where I thought "Man, I wish there was a cop around to stop him..." But I think that the resentment most people feel is at the kind of speed enforcement that is clearly not meant to provide for safer roads so much as to fund the local law enforcement community.
posted by quin at 8:21 AM on September 21, 2009


Our list of subtle methods of subverting an authoritarian state, as compiled so far in this thread:

a) helping people who are driving over the speed limit avoid getting a ticket
b) running a tor relay

any other suggestions?
posted by idiopath at 8:27 AM on September 21, 2009


black + white = gray? - NEVAR

black + white = white + black? - ALWAYS
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 9:26 AM on September 21, 2009


idiopath, I admire your hugely enlarged sense of respect for rules no matter where they come from. There was once a man who practically relied on masses of rule-loving, obedient people.

(sorry, just practicing my ad hominems which you so bravely pioneered in this thread)

Also, it's speed differential that kills. Please do some reading on German Autobahn safety.
posted by Laotic at 1:11 PM on September 21, 2009


My previous post was not sarcasm, it was a concession.
posted by idiopath at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2009


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