Driven: 2011 Nissan Juke

A. J. Mueller

Nissan has even managed to make the climate controls sexy. Called I-CON (for Integrated Control) by the marketers, the center stack's lower knobs and buttons serve double duty, controlling the climate system and the driving mode. Tapping the "Climate" or "D-Mode" button alters the illumination and function of the controls while the LCD flips between climate information, an eco rating, torque, or boost. We just wish the audio and navigation controls-tiny buttons and knobs in a bland, bricklike head unit-were given as much attention and real estate.

To the uninitiated, Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival appears to be a collection of WTF. The schedule lists events like ice bowling, a human dogsled race (won by a team using two car hoods as a sled), the Yooper sprint (participants wear one snowshoe and one cross-country ski), and a beard contest, but the signature is the snow-statue competition with sculptures as tall and well-engineered as the buildings they stand next to.

More than fifty fraternities, sororities, dorms, and clubs compete in either a monthlong manufacturing process or a one-night snow-packing spree. Snow, delivered one pickup load at a time, is mixed with water and pressed into large plywood forms. Machetes butcher the resulting ice blocks into shape, while clothing irons sear texture and detail into an icy finish. This year's theme revolves around books, so there's Harry Potter, The Little Engine That Could, and a ten-foot-tall toilet celebrating the childhood tome Everyone Poops. The sculpture that catches our eye, however, has nothing to do with reading. In fact, it's not so much a snow statue as it is a snow speaker cabinet, measuring roughly twenty feet wide and ten feet tall and holding sixty-eight speakers wired to a 20-kilowatt generator. Photographer A. J. Mueller envisions a shot with partiers, the speaker wall, and the Juke, so he interrupts the students screwing speakers into their plywood cutouts and proposes we bring the Nissan back in a couple hours. "Are you sure you want to do that?" one student asks. "Last year they flipped a car."

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