Archive for the ‘ Bring It Back ’ Category

LINDA LOVELACE BUILT MY HOT ROD

Thursday, August 8th, 2013


Linda Lovelace and Funny Car driver, Ed McCulloch

This Friday, a little film with some big names attached to it will release in just a few theaters and video-on-demand. “Lovelace” stars that chick from Allentown, PA – Amanda Seyfried – as the iconic Linda Lovelace and if this movie had its own FaceySpacey page, the relationship with American popular culture would be categorized as “It’s Complicated.”

Now’s the perfect time for a biopic about Linda Lovelace. Why? Well, because everything bitchin’ about the Seventies is hip right now, but we’re all skirting around what made it possible: the sexual revolution. Choppers, halter tops, Funny Cars, feathered hair, street freaks, doom metal, Keystone Klassics, Funk…the list just goes on.

Yeah, yeah, we know you think it’s a stretch, but the sexual revolution of the late Sixties/early Seventies was more than just a sex thing. It was a state of mind that allowed everything to be questioned. Tim Conder talks about how his blue-collar dad in a white t-shirt and perfectly greased Flat-Top Boogie discovered bean bag chairs and shag rugs in the Seventies and that didn’t mean he stopped running through the four gears of his perfect ’55 Chevy on the back roads of Kentucky, it just meant that folks of his generation were allowed, nay, encouraged to walk away from the Howdy-Doody bullshit that had been paving over the depths of the human soul for the last several decades.

By the time car culture finally got all the butch wax washed out of its hair in ’72, Linda Lovelace had brought sex grinding onto the silver screen in “Deep Throat.” The first film of its kind to actually wake up the American consciousness, the $50,000 investment (little more than $270,000 in today’s cake) by Louis Peraino and his mutton-chopped gang came to define the core of everything we loved. Namely, Freedom. Freedom to do whatever and whoever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to. And that kind of freedom – the kind that Linda made us all aware of in some very memorable ways – ended up in the haze-smoke of Bob Gerdes’ Circus Paint, the Funny Car circuit that Jungle Jim Liberman and Jungle Pam Hardy made so popular, the music of Pentagram, the mad lab of Dick Allen, the hot rod styling of “Lil John” Buttera, the custom van movement, “Convoy,” the cane-n-cape swagger of Evel Knievel, KISS…the mind just boggles with wizards, metalflake, Jesus toe sandals, Gold Streaks and shaggy-haired jet boat parties.

We could go on and on about Linda’s force majeure that excused an entire generation from the fate of its parents, but hey – that shit’s been done before. We’ll take the time to make the connection between the cult of personality of Linda Lovelace and everything we love so much about car culture. Swallow that.

THE TRADITION OF IMMIGRANT TATTOO

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Really neat piece by Damien Shiels on the tattoos of Irish enlisted men that were recorded by the Union Navy during the Civil War that photographer, Jeremy Harris, turned us onto.

And much as we love the history of tattoos in America, we love how that tradition has continued into modern day: we’re still seeing tattoos as marks of identification and specific messages abundant in immigrant communities, as opposed to the more general ‘adornment’ approach that has taken over the cultural mainstream – especially in the corners of car culture that have, thankfully, escaped the bullshit of reality TV. And we love that good, good stuff. Keeps the colorful (we had to say it) history and culture of tattoo grounded in an age of such inking fuckery, no?

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


photo: Brian Bossone

We were over on FaceySpacey a few weeks ago when we stopped dead on our keyboard: Brian Bossone had posted up two shots of a Buick Nailhead that looked achingly familiar.

Back in the mid-Nineties, we found a ’63 Buick Riviera stuffed into a basement-turned-living room in central Pennsylvania and plunked down $1500 for it before the owner could get out a “Well…”

LOVED that car. As far as a factory custom, nothing came as close as the Riviera that ended up in the Buick camp for the 1963 model year after the boys over at Cadillac turned the design down. Now, this one was bone-stock, but rusty. Typical PA car. But that mattered not. Nearly 20 years ago, there just weren’t many Rivs in the general consciousness of the custom car magazines and Rob Fortier – who was at Custom Rodder at the time – was the only one touting the lines of Riviera in the magazines.

Much as we loved the Riviera, the 2-speed DynaSlow was keeping that 401 Nailhead from realizing its full potential, we thought. Not only that, but we thought that motor could breathe a little better and be, well, FASTER. Picked up Pat Ganahl’s “Street Supercharging” book and cover-to-covered that sumbitch for a whole summer between beers and stair-diving at a summer share in South Bethany Beach, Delaware. And that was IT, brother: a blown Nailhead was what we needed, but we didn’t want a roots-type sticking up through the hood, so a centrifugal type that could be hung off the motor somewhere under the closed hood was the answer.

(more…)

SEVENTIES PAINT

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Working on a very special project right now that, while we’re sworn to secrecy (OK, we just promised we wouldn’t blog about it. YET.), has us all amped up and pacing back-and-forth like Hoffman in Rain Man. And we’re looking for some original ’70s painted panels. Could be a fender off a doorslammer. A front clip from a F/C? Maybe a tailgate from a T roadster pickup show rod. Possibly a hood from a ’55 Chebby street freak. You get the idea: it really all comes down to some insane fade/panel/fishscale/lace/metalflake that’s been untouched since some time between, say, ’69 and ’77.

Let us know whatcha got and there’s a little fame in it for you. Just a little.

BEHIND THE SNAKE AND MONGOO$E

Monday, July 22nd, 2013


McEwen’s freshly-repaired ’79 ‘Vette body at the Salinas Boys shop – photo furnished by Cole Foster

Our man-about-town in Bennington, VT, Dan Strohl at Hemmings, posted up the latest trailer for the oh-so-anticipated “Snake & Mongoose” film releasing this year and we couldn’t resist mentioning it here, again – especially since Cole finished up the Mongoose ‘Vette body that was roughed up a little bit during the making of the film (above).

Now, one of the things, as journalists, that bugs us the most about the Glory Days of Drag Racing (roughly 1965 to 1973) is that the guys (and let’s face it; the girls, too) who were living those wild and wooly years to the wildest-wooliest don’t wanna talk about it.

Sure, they’ll talk about it, but only if they get a swearsies-double-knuckle-cocotaso promise from us that we’ll never write about them talking about it. Late at night, in the back shop at Gotelli’s in South San Francisco – on the same floor that the #19 car was built (the most beautiful dragster ever to roll through the box), we’ve heard some of the most epic stories of what happened at tracks, bars, motels, cargo slabs in chase wagons, truck beds, roadsides, service bays and up against chain link fences among these gladiators and the people who loved them.

And having heard enough of these stories in wide-eyed wonderment, we can say with every ounce of certainty that the generations since them – ours definitely included – have not LIVED. Nossir, you may think you have some epic stories to tell, but unless you drove/built/wrenched a drag car in the days when so many died going so fast, brother, you ain’t shit. And we include ourselves in that group, too, so don’t get your t-back in a wad.

Back to Prudhomme and McEwen. As much as this little film promises, we’re quite certain that the stuff we’d love to hear about the most was probably not left on the cutting room floor, but never broached to begin with. And that’s a shame. Story is what we’re all about. Story is what lives on after we’re gone – the good, bad, ugly and epic. And while we don’t know Don or Tom personally, we’ll slap leather that the epicness we really want to know about won’t be revealed in any film backed by the NHRA.

But hey – we’re still gonna see the film. We’re still stoked that the cars have been restored, the haulers dragged back out and repainted, Don and Tom celebrated and lauded in a much-deserved way. Stoked. And it just strengthens our resolve that much more to get to the stories nobody else will. Or can.


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VINTAGE NASCAR AS SEEN BY THE BLUEBLOODS

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

We couldn’t be more stoked: historic stock car racers have finally infiltrated the green, green grass of the American concours circuit. Woke up to a post over on the Hemmings blog this morning by Kurt Ernst about the St. John’s Concours d’Elegance and its decision to feature a few great examples of perfectly restored NASCAR cars and we can hear Big Bill France chuckling and shaking his head all the way over to the great tire rack in the sky.

First it was the hot rods and customs showing up every two years at Pebble Beach and now this. And while we think it’s a strategically great idea to keep interest in the graying scene at concours all over the country, vintage stock cars on the grass brings up a few questions for us…

For instance, how is the provenance of an old stock car checked? Like any other racing machine, shit got changed. ALOT. Bodies, motors, rolling assemblies, paint…what started out as a Ford entry may have ended up as a Mercury by the end of its racing days. So where does a restoration project stop the chronological clock on a car? Its last iteration as it was found? Maybe. Or maybe its first skin on the track? Or its trim when it made some important contribution to the development of NASCAR? Maybe the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above.

The Historic Stock Car Racing Series has been working on these kinds of questions long before the blue-jacket-n-straw-hat crowd started asking them and we’ll leave them to it. But the one thing we’d like to suggest is that the cutoff year for these restorations be somewhere around 1984.

See, just like any other form of racing, more money equals more risk equals less willingness to risk the money. And by the early Eighties, NASCAR was starting to reel from the effects of the cash rained down on it by sponsors big enough to really change the alchemy of the rowdiest form of motorsport ever to make it big. Once the domain of moonshiners and cowboys in helmets, NASCAR really started to lose its edge when it went stratospheric in the Nineties and the media coined a term for all the guys showing up to the track, blasting Garth Brooks from their new Scottsdales, in jean shorts and Mossy Oak-branded headsets with matching kidlets in tow: “NASCAR dads.” UGH – just stick a sharp corner of a foam Snickers-branded stadium butt-cozie in our eye.

Up till the early-to-mid Eighties, NASCAR was still exciting. A fight in the pits, beers in the over-the-wall gang, drivers you might actually talk to before a race, teams you’d see in the parking lot at the bar afterward…a real traveling band of incredibly talented gypsies just under the radar of national consciousness. And what we mean by that is a Bill Elliott hat only available for purchase at a truckstop, not a Jeff Gordon XXXL girls hoodie at fucking Walmart. See the difference?

So, we can’t wait to see some of these restored cars at concours all over the country. It’s an important movement in the development of the American auto industry and these old warriors deserve this kind of respect and adulation. And we’d love to hold a panel discussion at Pebble on the merits of preservation vs. restoration when it comes to this amazeballs development in the relevance of concours events.


pics courtesy Hemmings Daily

WE DIDN’T KNOW JACK

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Off working on a few projects, so we’ll keep it brief this morning: had a great conversation with Steve Scott the other day that turned to none other than Wolfman Jack. He’s one of those characters we certainly know, but didn’t really know much about. Seen the shot of him and Kim Fowley, loved his role as the mysterious oracle in “American Graffiti,” but never really knew much about his years on Mexican border-blaster radio. Neat stuff. As you’re googling around today, do a search on ol’ Wolfman and dig in a little. Good to reacquaint yourself with the classics every once in a while…

20 YEARS OF KUSTOM KULTURE

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

1993 was 20 years ago. Yeah, it was news to us, too.

That year changed us, dramatically: We were on the East Coast – living in Fells Point, Baltimore – and, while we never strayed too far from cars, let’s just say we were much more concerned with where the next party was in those years.

Anyhoo, the word was out about a show at the old train station in town that had been turned into a fairly bitchin’ art museum of sorts: apparently, there were going to be some cars and some art and some other shit that sounded like something we shouldn’t miss. Turns out, it was the Kustom Kulture show that was traveling across the country and it BLEW. OUR. MINDS.

From that show, an entire subculture gelled: Kustom Kulture became an actual phrase to describe what was happening at the time, Juxtapoz magazine was founded and everything we loved really started to make sense as an actual movement that we could define ourselves as members of.

Now, exactly 20 years later, C.R. Stecyk III, Greg Escalante and Paul Frank are doing it once more. Kustom Kulture II opens this weekend at Huntington Beach Art Center and we couldn’t be more stoked. Not only could there be no one better to put this show on, but now’s the chance for our generation’s artists – our own national treasures – to be featured alongside the very artists who influenced them in that show 20 years ago.

Can’t wait to see how a new generation is influenced by this show. Lord knows, by looking at some of the magazines on the stands, we desperately need it…

1979: THE WORLD OUTSIDE THE STONE PONY

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013


photo: Joe Maloney

If you grew up on the mid-Atlantic area of the East Coast in the Seventies (like we did), you went to the shore in the summer. And there were basically two strains of shore culture in those years: you were either defined by Ocean City, Maryland or Ocean City, New Jersey.

The differences might not have been obvious on the surface, but there was an invisible line of demarcation running in a backwards “J” shape roughly a 4-hour drive east from the coasts of New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware – the hook cradling the Philadelphia area. The O.C./MD experience was defined more by crab feeds, trailer parks on the bay side and college kids cramming into summer shares on the Delaware beaches – a little more, well, “country,” if you will. The O.C./NJ thing was peppered with influence coming south from New York City and year-round dwellers who lived and ran businesses on the Jersey shores – slightly more “cosmopolitan” in traditions that filtered through from Atlantic City and generations of immigrants coming through the gates of Ellis Island.

One of those Jersey shore towns was Asbury Park. Yeah, yeah, yeah – it’s also the home of The Stone Pony: the home bar venue of Bruce Springsteen (nothing against the guy – and yeah, we’ve seen the old photo of him in the ‘Vette – but we just can’t take that music). One of the greatest things about the Eastern shores, for us, is the car culture. In the Seventies, you got to the beach by car and Asbury Park was no different. And what went on at the beach because of all those cars was pretty epic: the boardwalks, the girls, the bars, the hair…it was all good.

Now, a show at the Rick Wester gallery of the photographs made by Joe Maloney in Asbury Park during those beautiful analog years is open and we dig it. All of a sudden, we can smell the melting rubber in the boardwalk t-shirt shop irons and the gentle waft of ditch weed and suntan lotion on the sand…

THE HALF-STRONGS: UNDERGROUND AMERICAN CAR CULTURE, INTERPRETED BY THE SWISS

Monday, July 8th, 2013


photo: Karlheinz Weinberger

If you follow us, you know that we just fucking LOVE how the underground culture of cars in America is re-imagined in faraway lands all over the globe. From the Germans and their drag racing scene to the British rockasilly movement and all the Japanese lowriders and Swedish hillclimbs in between, we love it all.

But what’s even more amazing to us is that some of these truly underground movements happened 60+ years ago when teen rage was really being simultaneously developed here, stateside. Before the interwebs, before the cultural saturation of television, before this stuff could traverse the globe at the speed of light, it was being spread just a little faster…at the speed of teen, son. In the late Fifties, Karl Weinberger – a Swiss amateur photographer, started to make photographs of a youth subculture in Switzerland that seemed to magnify the young outsider movement in America.

The Halbstarker, or “Half Strong” movement was made up of German and Swiss kids who’d obviously seen what was happening in the burgeoning American rock-n-roll industry, but they also seemed to have gotten a taste of the 1%-er motorcycle culture and a dash of hotrodding that was fast becoming one of the most influential mid-century American exports, too.

Weinberger was a GWC (guy with a camera) who had gotten some of his amateur photos published in the gay magazines of the day when he met a kid on the street in Zurich in the late Fifties who was dressed like some sort of beautiful caricature of Elvis, Lee Marvin, Bill Haley, the Lone Ranger and the Black Rebels. And once that kid let Weinberger in to the rest of his world that was existing just under the surface of post-war Western Europe, he wasted no time in documenting every glorious bit of it.

And see, this is what we love about offshore youth culture looking in on everything we created here in America: it all gets magnified. A good belt buckle can be a great belt buckle if it becomes a much larger belt buckle, right? Some purely functional metal hardware on a Schott Perfecto is awesome, so extending it in actual hardware to shirts, jeans, zippers and boots is more awesomer. Jelly rolls? BIGGER jelly rolls. Motorcycle boots aren’t nearly as “American” as cowboy boots, so cowboy boots with the jeans stuffed into them are better. A silver necklace? No, no, no – that won’t do…but a length of chain with an enormous old factory door lock around the neck will work just fine, thanks. It all adds a little more shock to the effect, right? Right. Especially when the world you live in is the righteous epitome of Western European culture.

The Halbstarkers were taking American underground youth culture to an extreme that, had they magically woken up one morning (after a night of doing whatever they were doing out in the Swiss woods) in Hollister, CA, would’ve probably even shocked the Americans they were sort of emulating. And Weinberger had gained their trust enough to document their lives and the lives of the subsequent outlaw cultures that grew out of them over the next three decades or so.

You can find more of Weinberger’s collection of Halbstalker in Rizzoli’s Rebel Youth. Good stuff…