Hola amigos. How's it hangin'? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but a lot of shit's been going down in Jim's part of town. See, I been working my ass off at this new job. You know how on trucks they have those running boards which are black, but they aren't painted because paint would come off real fast? Well, I work at a place where we put some black-powder crap onto the metal running boards and bake it for a while so it won't come off, even if you go off-roading. I guess you'd call me a powder boy, 'cause I apply the powder to the metal.

Nothing fancy, but it pays the bills. One cool thing about it, though, is that my boss isn't around very much. He's a total dick when he is around, always on my case about something. It's always, "Put it on more evenly, Anchower!" or, "Pick up the pace, Anchower!" That jackass! I'll pick up his pace one of these days.

On top of that, I've been going crazy trying to track down where the hell all the oil is going in my car. I've been losing it so fast, I have to keep a case of it in the trunk just to keep from fusing my pistons. Plus, some asswipe broke off my side-mirror, and I had to get it fixed. I don't want to say who I think did it, but let's just say I have my ideas.

Anyway, this column is all about cruising, and it's occurred to me that I've let that slide in favor of other topics lately. So I thought this would be a good time to give a little refresher course in the finer points of the cruise.

Now, if you're sitting there rolling your eyes, thinking that you know it all, you'd better read this anyway. I don't want you getting stopped by the cops or looking weak 'cause you forgot something as simple as having some breath freshener on hand. I'm looking out for you, you'd better believe I am. So, here are some of my basic rules:

1) Choose your car wisely. Eight hundred bucks is a lot of money, and you don't want to blow it on some hunk of junk that's going to bust down all the time. Unless, of course, it looks cool, in which case this rule doesn't apply. And under no circumstances should you be caught driving a VW Bug or a Chevy of any kind. I don't care if someone gives you one for free, you turn that shit down. No one needs a car that bad. Trust me on this one.

2) Make sure to keep some righteous tunes on hand. Nothing kills the buzz of a good cruise like having to listen to crap. If you've only got a radio, a good classic-rock station is the only way to go. If you can swing it, though, a tape deck is far preferable. A decent musical library must include the following albums: Jethro Tull, Aqualung; Lynyrd Skynyrd, Second Helping; Blue Öyster Cult, Secret Treaties; Led Zeppelin, Houses Of The Holy; REO Speedwagon, High Infidelity; David Lee Roth, Eat 'Em And Smile; Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Bachman-Turner Overdrive II.

3) Keep an eye out for pigs. (And I don't mean the four-legged variety, either.) See, cops hate to see guys like you and me having fun. In fact, the only time they have fun is when they stop us from cruising. That's why you gotta play it cool. Keep a low profile in places where they might be, especially donut shops. Also, have a good story ready in case you do get pulled over, and never use it more than once. That'd be stupid.

4) Keep a full tank, spare tire, and pack of matches handy at all times. The gas and tire are obvious. The matches are important in case you need to light a signal fire or defend yourself. I just saw The Edge, and they had to fight bears with fire. Now, I'm not saying you're going to have to fight bears, but you can never be too prepared.

Remember this knowledge I'm passing along to you, my friends, because next time I'm gonna quiz you. Nah, not really. I'm just yanking your chain. I trust you to learn it without me having to babysit you. Plus, if you don't learn it, you're only hurting yourself, not me. Unless you happen to crash into my car because you were reading while cruising instead of beforehand. Then I would be pissed.