December 10th, 2013

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Look, we’ve got a background in advertising, so it’s hard to watch commercials (we call ‘em “spots”) on TV without imagining what the initial presentation must’ve looked like for the creative team that presented it to the client. So this new minute-long spot (we call ‘em “:60s”) is a real mind-fuck for us.

A :60? That’s twice the commitment for any advertiser. Most of the time, a spot is half that (we call ‘em “:30s”) and then the standard fare is that the advertiser can’t afford running all those :30s, so they have us edit (we call it “cutting”) those :30s down to half that (we call ‘em “:15s”) and that’s why you’ll see really short versions of other normal spots that you’ve seen, like, two weeks ago. But a :60. And not just a :60, but a :60 that looks like a goddam major movie trailer.

And not only a major movie trailer, but a “World’s Fastest Indian” type of movie for gearheads that their girlfriends won’t mind going to see, as well. And all that to simply make an analogy between the idea of ‘commitment’ to a new flavor of Henn-Dog? Hey, Hennessy – just make the movie about Malcolm Campbell and his Blue Bird, already. You’ve gone ahead and started it and we’ll drink your shit all night long with the wanna-be ballers in the Champagne Room at Cheetah 3 next time we’re in Vegas if you just Malcolm-Campbell this thing. Swearzies. See that? It’s already working and we’re using Campbell’s name as a verb. But you gotta make the movie, first…


December 2nd, 2013

Now, we know that you can do on your phone on the way into work what used to only be possible once you got to your cube and logged into your powerful office PC – hence, “Cyber Monday.” That’s just so 1998, right? But, whatever – we’ll play along. For today only, take 20% off everything we make. Just go to the store and use the code “82MUCH” when you check out and we’ll take care of the rest. Not a bad deal.


November 26th, 2013

photo: Eric Haines

What do you usually do the day after Thanksgiving? Black Friday nonsense? Dragged to the mall and you find yourself sitting on one of those bench-shaped petri dishes outside of the Abercrombie hell hole double-tapping all your Insta buddies, wishing you were riding choppers into the sunset glory or racing your tin lizzy roadster on the beaches of South Jersey or just about anything other than waiting for your girl to finish up all her shopping while you try to drown yourself in your Orange Julius? Yeah, we get it.

Welp, we’ve got the perfect antidote to all that: the 2014 AUTOCULT calendar release party. Strategically situated not only at the location of our own Miss February ’14 shoot, but also somewhere between all those unholy Bay Area shopping malls, we’re throwing down at the historic Lariat Tavern in Belmont, CA. We’re gettin’ down around 3pm with a shitload of great hot rods, customs, custom vans, street freaks and the rest of the cars and girls from the calendar. As well as all our hot rod buddies and their, uh, hot rods.

So, swig down the rest of that Orange Julius, cram that last Panda Express spring roll down your neck, remember which mall entrance you parked near and git on over to the Lariat on Friday. We’ll have a much-needed drink waiting for you. Get all the deets right here and see you soon!


November 21st, 2013

“You better get a girl and all your bullshit down here before this thing leaves the shop on Friday. You’ll never see it again…”

That was the call we got from Cole Foster on, like, a Tuesday. See, when this new film about the match race glory days of Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen was being shot, some of the guys’ real Funny Cars were used – The Mongoose’s Silver Anniversary ‘Vette, being one of ‘em. Turns out, the fiberglass body got knocked around a little and the thing needed some repairs before it went back to whoever was responsible for returning it just like they found it.

Now, not only is Cole a master craftsman, but he’s drag racing royalty: son of driver and builder Pat “Bananas” Foster and literally growing up at the drag strip, the man comes with the kind of baked-in trust and admiration from the grey-haired drag racing kings that can only be gained by putting in countless hours of sitting patiently in the cab of the car hauler while the ol’ man is partying in the motel room through most of the Seventies. And that’s why Don Trasin trusted Cole with fixing up one of the most famous dragsters of the Funny Car era.

The repair work and paint was finished, but we had a very small window of opportunity to find a girl, a bikini, a makeup artist, a hairstylist, the car keys and a photographer and get them all to the Salinas Boys shop and get out before the trailer showed up. Lucky for us, photographer Adam Wright was home from working overseas for a few days and he agreed to get help us get the band back together at Cole’s.

Not every day you get to crash so much great history together at one time and one place: Cole, McEwen’s complete dragster, Adam Wright, the Deadend Boys, Noah Greenberg, Susie and a few other random Salinas Boys showed up over the course of the afternoon at the shop. And our own Hip Hop video girl, Quania, crawling across the delicate flopper top made it all dangerous. This is the kind of shit that makes this calendar project so special.

And these are the days you don’t forget…

Special thanks to Quania Jones, Santana Espinoza, Bella Cristina for Archer Salon, Adam Wright, Don Trasin and always Salinas Boys


November 13th, 2013

Ides of March, right? So, we decided to celebrate the brutal stabbing death of Julius Caesar by doing a giant, smokey burnout with Dave Tanimura’s hellacious ’65 Comet gasser and one of our favorite models, Trish.

Now, a shoot like this poses a few problems: how long can the trans-brake hold that bucking-bronco of a 428c.i.d. before the slicks get so sticky they start hooking? And will the model be able to hold her composure with that kind of energy boiling – literally – right under her? And will the model even show up?

In this case, the original model welched on the entire shoot, oh, about 30 minutes before the call-time. And Trish – who you might remember from our 2013 calendar – has been really busy with her booming makeup artistry, but was willing to carve out some time for this photoshoot and handle the makeup styling duties. So, as Trish was en route to the shoot location, we called her in a panic to tell her to sit tight while we figure out who we could call in a pinch to stand in for the Flakemaster General who just stood us up.

“You want me to do it?,” Trish asked with her usual light laughter and characteristic willingness to do whatever it takes to get a production done (bless her naturally beautiful heart). “YES,” was all we could get out before she could even object.

And lucky for us. It only took Dave’s first burnout for us to realize that we had really dodged a bullet: our original model, had she decided to even show up, would’ve FREAKED and shut down the whole shoot over what Trish took in stride. With a smile on her face. Actually, a giggle. Really, a genuine laughing fit that only a girl who was truly enjoying herself could muster.

What you see in our initial video and the glorious month of March, 2014 is the product of what was originally a disaster that turned into one of the best shoots of the entire project. Damn right.


November 10th, 2013

photo: Tiny Locas

Just days after our post on the Tiny Locas show (see below), we got one of those calls you never want to get: Nomad and good friend, Cisco Lastra, was on the other end of the phone with the news that Sandy Cuadra had passed away.

Not only was Sandy the voice of San Francisco’s Mission District for its residents who were here long before the hipster lumberjacks and Austin transplants jacked the rents some 4000% and started curating $40 artisanal whisky cocktails out of repurposed garages that once housed some of the West Coast’s best lowriders, but she was also heavily involved with the civic duties of the most colorful neighborhood of a damn colorful city.

We hope that someone else puts Sandy’s flag in the air and waves it like she actually does care. The Mission – and the city – needs to remember its roots while it continues forward.


October 30th, 2013

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We’ve talked about this before, but one of the foundation underground movements that has shaped what car culture (and a certain element of witless hipsters) looks like right now was happening in Latin neighborhoods on the West Coast forty years ago. The Tiny Locas right here in San Francisco’s Mission District? Yep – they were part of it. And while one has to be very careful driving an old drum-brake car (like us) in The Mission these days because those skinny hipsters in the lumberjack beards and their girlfriends’ jeans tend to not watch traffic as they jaywalk with nose-to-iPad, the ‘hood is still hiding some tucked-away gems…one has to just look up from one’s iPad long enough to notice.

The world is so beautiful. It just has to be seen in the right light.


October 29th, 2013

special thanks to Lariat Tavern, Skinny Dog Design Group, Self Edge, Renza Celotti and Bella Cristina

Ah…the shortest month of the year. And unless you live south of the Grapevine, we’re gonna go ahead and assume February is as hard on you as it is on us. The weather just sucks and sure – it’s the time of year reserved for working on a new project or tearing down the tub or that hateful rewiring job you need to get to – but let’s face it, you’d rather be out on a drive on a beautiful afternoon. And those late afternoons sure do sound good when it’s dark and cold at 5pm. In February.

So, what’s the perfect antidote to February? Anitra and Johnny Koonce’s Model A coupe for the AUTOCULT calendar, of course! Now, we tend to veer away from the rockabilly themes when it comes to our hot rod pinup shoots. Why? Because too many shitty magazines and hack “photographers” have ruined it for the discriminating public. On the other hand, the American rockabilly scene has great roots and when it’s done right, there are few things as fucking awesome as a great rockabilly hot rod pinup girl.

It was with this in mind that we reached out to Johnny Koonce – a member of the venerable Road Zombies car club in San Jose, CA and owner of Kool Cat Kustoms. And, more importantly, builder and owner of this rawmpin,’ stawmpin’ ’30 Model A coupe. Thing does, like, 9s in the quarter-mile. Seriously. And then we called up artist and photographer, Bill Schuch – at a boozy party one night, he showed us some blurry (well, we were probably the blurry ones) shots of a girl he photographed for god-knows-what and we knew we had to get him and her lined up for this calendar.

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October 25th, 2013

In 1972, a 26 year-old blonde – the archetypal California Girl – posed for a photo that would bring hot rod culture, the world of flatbottom hot boats, pop culture television and the underground ‘adult’ scene together in one glorious moment.

Suzanne Somers made a career of being the ultimate ‘California Girl’ of the Seventies: bubbly, blonde, legs for days, can’t find a bra to save her life…the girl-next-door every baby boomer kid wished really moved in next door. Lucky for us right here in Nor-Cal, she actually was: born and raised just down the San Francisco peninsula in the airport town of San Bruno, Suzanne came of age among some of the great names of hotrodding and drag racing in the Sixties.

And by the time she reached her mid-twenties, Suzanne had some of the most memorable bit movie parts under he belt: the “blonde in the T-bird” in George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” and the topless girl in “Magnum Force,” to name a couple. But in 1972 – five years before “Three’s Company” would really make her a household name – Suzanne also posed for a photo that would become an underground icon for dudes all over the Seventies.

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October 23rd, 2013

photography: Michael Schmidt

We’ve talked about this before, but we’ll say it again: underground motorcycle culture is at its best right now. It’s hard to pinpoint, but when Jason Jessee and his Black Tibetan were featured in a magazine in the early Nineties, the spark found a little fuel. Bring it up roughly 12-15 years later and Jason’s compadres – the Sinners Brotherhood Of Love And Friendship – presented that same aesthetic in ways that took hold of what the ad industry calls the “tastemakers” of the culture and it was a refreshing revolt against the bullshit bling-a-ling of the fat tire iron cross Walmart douchebag brigade that had taken over the chopper consciousness of the previous decade.

With Jason Jessee as its reluctant messiah, skateboarding had found choppers and a beautiful, energetic, prolific underground culture – complete with its own art, shows, music, style and uniforms – emerged. And really – there’s no other automotive scene that has produced more great stuff – custom shops, handmade apparel lines, parts brands, magazines, books, films, personalities and off-shoot sub-sub-subcultures than this one.

And photography. We’ve been fortunate to work with some of the earliest names in this scene, but one of the latest we’re huge fans of is Michael Schmidt. He’s done some really wonderful work for Matt and Dean over at DicE magazine, as well as some campaigns for some iconic brands, book projects, the list goes on.

What we love so much about Schmidt’s work is what we love so much about underground choppers: there’s a strain of authenticity to it that got lost in the bullshit of the fat-tire era. Sure, it don’t take but a few weeks to grow a beard and buy a 70s-era chop, but even then, the entire approach of this scene that Michael is working in is so much more about respecting its history, building and riding for the love of real freedom and staying way out of the mass media shitstorm.

Schmidt can effortlessly walk between the work of recording the world around him in his editorial style and the commercial work that puts the “pro” in professional photography. He knows how to make some beautiful images. We hope to see so much more of Schmidt’s work before that douchebag element of choppers ruins it. From what we’ve seen, he’s got about a year – we’ve seen the lineup for Born Free 6 and it looks like the times, they are a changin’…