Archive for the ‘
Inspiration ’ Category
Monday, May 20th, 2013
We get into lots of conversations around the beer cooler about what the hell it is that we do every day. Well, our days are just like everyone else’s: riding vintage minibikes with Cole Foster of Salinas Boys on the mean streets of Salinas, CA to go get tacos and then back to the shop to look at the restoration work on Tom McEwen’s Mongoose ‘Vette Funny Car body. You know how that shit goes: just another day…
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
It’s no secret we do what we do out of one of the greatest and most unique cities ever built. And one of our favorite San Francisco photographers is Fred Lyon: he’s on the high side of the nineties now, but he still shooting and we’re working up the nerve to ask him to work with us on a project.
Another seemingly disparate topic we love is the experience of driving in San Francisco. Hard to explain it, but as we were looking at Lyon’s work, it suddenly all came together for us: his images do a great visual job of exactly that! So, we thought we’d take you for a drive through our beloved hometown through the beautiful, mid-century work of Fred Lyon…
Let’s start with the image above. The fog in San Francisco has much to do with what we locals like to call ‘microclimates.’ For whatever topographic and oceanic reasons, the fog here can be localized to the point that it’s foggy in one neighborhood and sunny in the next – sometimes mere blocks from each other. The fog can be as fast as it is thick, too. It moves with the wind and one usually begat the other, making it a real challenge to drive in, but have no fear: when you reach the edge of the Sunset District (one of the foggiest neighborhoods…go figure) and drive into, say the Inner Richmond, you can actually watch as the front half of your car is shining in the sun and the back half is still shrouded in the dark fog. It’s like driving through a waterfall – it’s that dramatic. So cool…
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Ever go to a flea market and find those boxes of old, brittle photo prints of anonymous family vacations, backyard barbecues, cars, farms, amateur street shots and allah-knows-what-all? Yeah, we love that shit, too. We’re always looking for the rare-ass hot rod snapshot or biker photo, but we’re always left wondering what the situation was that prompted the camera to be taken out and used to record that frozen moment. And did those people ever expect their photos to be rummaged years later by hipsters in skinny jeans and lumberjack beards at yard sales and swap meets, taking phone-pictures of their pictures to Instagram it later with a digital filter meant to replicate the original picture? The world is a weird place when you stop long enough to think about it.
Enter Chicagoan, John Maloof: in ’07, he picked up a trunk full of negs and filmstrips at an auction and discovered some fairly goddam amazing photography by a complete unknown. Turns out, some of the most important American photography of the Twentieth Century was made by a nanny nobody seemed to really ever know as well as the children she attended to. Sort of.
We’re not gonna ruin it for you – just watch the yet-to-be-released documentary trailer below and if you’re not as stunned as we were the first time we watched it, you don’t have a soul, kid.
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
To some, money’s the thing. MONEYMONEYMONEY. It rules them and they’ll make a life’s worth of bad decisions in its pursuit and, at the end of their day, still have nothing to show for it. To others, relationships are that thing: making their own lives better and richer for knowing someone special and passing some of that wealth on when the opportunity makes itself known.
Kent Fuller, for us, is one of those who’s made us richer for knowing him. Now, we’re not fishin’ buddies, but then again, we’re not entirely sure Fuller fishes. But when Vern Tardel introduced us to Fuller years and years ago when his streamliner was coming together in the back shop at the Tardel hot rod ranch in Santa Rosa, CA, we just stood there with those two mighty men in the heat of the day under that tin roof and just…well…got richer.
Friday, April 19th, 2013
One of our favorite Japanese car culture brands, The Local Hero, is releasing its second collection of photography with the coffee table book, “Life Is Real, Special Issue #02.”
Now, we’ve professed our love and dedication to the Japanese here many a bloggity post o’er these last many years and this is just one more reason for it: when they finally go in, they go all in. And the lowrider culture coming out of California – the eastern edge of the Pacific – has been totally recognized, embraced, absorbed, tweaked, broadcast, soaked, repurposed and put forth again for all to love and admire.
Sometimes, when you’re busy blazing new trails and creating really cool shit, you don’t get the benefit of the thousand-foot view of what you’re doing and how you’re impacting the world around you. When the spaceship lands on your farm and your husk gets commandeered for crop circle duty, you’re too busy mowing down patterns in the back forty with your eyes lolling around in your head and you never get to peer down from the mother ship to see the beauty of your work. Welp, that’s sorta like American car culture: most times, we’re too busy making something amazing outta nothing to realize that what we did was really good and we shouldn’t fuck with it.
God bless the Japanese for taking copious notes from the observation deck of the mother ship hovering over California.
Monday, April 15th, 2013
Our friends over at Hemmings just posted this ultimate roadtrip of roadtrips: BURMA! Or Myanmar, depending on how old you are.
We’ve always had a special place in our black little hearts for car culture as it manifests itself in other parts of the world – and the more remote and weird, the better. And what could be more remote than a country that’s been shut off from the outside world for a generation? Right: BURMA, son! Belgian guy named Bruno Leunen has been working with his Burmese wife to navigate what we can only imagine as incredibly difficult waters with the Myanmar government to make this 17-day Burma Road Classic a reality. A $21,500 reality, but when are you gonna get a chance to roadtrip Burma, while staying at several of the rare hotels in-country and do even cooler shit like hot-air ballooning among hundreds of temple spires? Hell, at $13.65/mile, everything is taken care of for you once you get yourself to Rangoon. But bring your own spare parts and favorite traveling tool bag.
Now, while you’re digging into Bruno’s website and the backyard pool fund that you’ll no doubt decimate with this trip slated for November, we’re already trying to figure out which car we’ll campaign (if we can find the cake to do it). With the pre-1970 cutoff for cars, it puts the right kind of restraint on us that always produces more creativity. Here’s what we’d do:
Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
photo: Allen Ginsberg
We’re just tired of hearing that tired word, “roadmap,” being used over and over again by politicians and the Genius behind the Bar at the Apple store. “What we need, see, is a roadmap to recovery…” Yeah. Right.
Well, maybe we actually do need a roadmap to recovery. Maybe we need to take those jackbags literally when they foam at the mouth on their Facebook pages and sad, sad made-for-Fox-News demonstrations over “taking our country back.” While we seriously question whether or not those who use either of those phrases actually know what they’re talking about (much less willing to back it up), we actually found a real roadmap that, if followed, are pretty sure we’d get our country back with.
In 1947, Jack Kerouac hitchhiked across the country – from New York to San Francisco and back again – and finished writing his epic, “On The Road,” four years later. Now, if you haven’t picked up a copy of this book yet, DO IT. Must have, really. The story is about the roadtrip to end all roadtrips with a friend. In this case, it was Jack and a guy named Neal Cassady. Both considered “Beats” by the cultural mainstream in post-WWII America: people who decided not to conform when the rest of the country was bent on assimilation-or-character assassination. Dangerous times for folks who swerved. And when you read what started out as a 120-foot, single-spaced, non-paragraphed paper scroll of continuous copy, you’ll understand why Kerouac’s journey is the most popular roadtrip story ever told.
But back to that roadmap. The story that was finally published ten years after Kerouac and Cassady made the trip drawn out on the map above was based on finding answers to questions that politicians and clergy and schoolteachers of their day couldn’t answer. And what was between the two centers of counterculture (which was mostly made up of souls who decided to live beyond the constraints of those who couldn’t answer their questions) in the late Forties – New York City and San Francisco – just had to be traversed at a time when Route 66 and The Lincoln Highway were still two of the major American roads.
While Kerouac never offers up any cosmic answers to the questions that were at the center of the Beat Movement when he wrote his roadtrip story, maybe a real understanding of the political and social turmoil we find ourselves in these days could be had by simply using his roadmap to really discover the America we live in now. Y’know, stay off the interstates and take the old roads. Do it in a ’49 Hudson like the one in the book that’ll force you to slow down and pay attention to the road, the surroundings, the sounds and the mechanical world that’s long been forgotten. And you have to understand a problem before you can fix it.
The Hudson in “On The Road” has never been found and is questioned to have ever existed, at all. Some of the roads taken in Kerouac’s original trip probably don’t exist today. The characters’ names had all been changed. But none of that really matters, right? No, what really matters is that enough of us get out on the roads of this fine country with our own hand-drawn maps and see it. Really see it and get back in touch with the great and glorious things we created when we all worked together. Great works of engineering and art and production and design and culture. Things we did that now need to be rediscovered, repaired or saved or, at the very least, remembered. That’s a real roadmap to recovery, son.
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Know what we love? When car culture and literature come smashing together in some great ways, that’s what we love. And while there are few better-known writers than Hemingway, we get a little burned out on the Running Of The Bulls and the Cuba thing when it comes to the old man and his sea of great references. So, when we heard that a guy had not only found one of Ernest’s droptops, but that it was a ’55 Chrysler and he figured out a way to nab the car and restore it, we were S.T.O.K.E.D.
David Soul made Hemingway’s New Yorker his windmill and brought along a film crew to make a documentary about its restoration. As any American gearhead can tell you, getting a car out of Cuba is next to impossible, but what it takes to get all the shit one needs to restore an antique car into Cuba…well, one can only imagine.
The good thing is, by ’55, them Chryslers were running the 331 Hemi without the bellhousing cast into the block, which makes parts for a rebuild much easier to find, or cast flywheels in the sand of a creek bank or whatever they have to do in Cuba to get obscure parts for 50+ year-old American cars. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little. Backing up for a sec, we gotta wonder: is it better to restore or preserve a car like this? It’s in poor enough condition that a restoration makes sense, but is it possible to restore Ernest’s car just to the point of drivability and leave the rest alone and keep its value up? Y’know, interior and drivetrain, but leave the paint and patina alone? We like that idea. Then again, we weren’t invited along, were we? No, we were not.
So, we’ll just be satisfied to enjoy the ride from the monitor here in the shop. Good luck, Soul – if you get yourself drunk enough to think a Cuban tattoo is a good idea, let us know. We got friends in low places…
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Our love for Ian Barry and his Falcon motorcycles is nothing we shy away from. No, we embrace that shit. There are a scant few American builders who elevate their art of the motorcycle to places so far removed from the reality tv show chopper clown circus that they allow us to almost forget that Wal-Mart and 7-11 are deciding forces in modern motorcycle culture. Almost.
But the latest win in that battle is Barry’s feature in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Along with pieces in Architectural Digest and other well-respected, non-endemic media outlets, his work is not only contributing to what’s good and right about motorcycle culture, but it’s bridging the gap between the mechanical world, the art world and the upper echelons of popular culture. That’s a rare and wonderful thing.
Shot by Douglas Friedman, the piece in VF moves our scene in ways that are necessary to balance things out. So, the next time you feel bad for not being able to unwatch the 8 minutes of the American-Outlaw-Chopper-Garage-Wars train wreck you caught yourself unable to turn away from, you can go punish yourself with a copy of Vanity Fair and put back in your life everything those few minutes took out.
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
Another great motorcycling brand has dipped its oil-imbibed toe in the rushing waters of fashion. This time, it’s Matchless – that great, old British marque that disappeared in the mid-Sixties after a series of conglomerations that gobbled up more than a few British bike brands.
Once the brothers from the Belstaff brand of riding clothing decided to buy the name and relaunch the company last year, Matchless plans to release two of its great bikes – the Silver Hawk and Silver Arrow – in Europe.
And if you just snapped up the bike that helped launch motorcycling in the U.K., you’re not gonna mess around when it comes to launching the motorclothes line bearing its name. So the Malenotti Brothers got Terry Richardson and Kate Moss in the same alley, gingerly placed a few bikes and some jackets within arm’s reach and stepped away, quickly.
What you see here is what Vogue decided to show us, but we get the feeling there’s much more. Oh, yes…there must be so much more…