Archive for the ‘ Inspiration ’ Category


Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Images courtesy Emily Dutton, Keith Weesner, David Perry, Dan Collins and some others we’re sure we forgot

In the early, early Nineties, a real revolution was taking place in Southern California among young car guys. We’ve published much about what’s now known as the hot rod revival, or more commonly known to our generation as the true Rat Rod movement and there was a small handful of souls who fleshed it out in ways that we’re still feeling the impact of, some two decades later.

In those early days, those kids stuck together because of the common interest in early hot rods and customs. And because there was no support for what they were doing, they formed car clubs – just like the guys they were emulating 40 years prior. Of those car clubs, the Shifters was one of the most influential. And of the Shifters, Anthony Castaneda was a beloved brother and catalyst for the entire culture. We lost Anthony in a tragic car crash involving his ’32 Ford pickup truck over the weekend.

What Anthony and his band of brothers were doing in Southern California back then – turning a wee roadhouse in Anaheim called The Doll Hut into a hot rod rockabilly ground zero, incubating a resurgence of classically beautiful/functional speed parts in the automotive aftermarket, creating an entire subculture fused of Punk Rock and hotrodding and skateboarding and mid-century fashion and a nod to the cultural history of the first middle-class American generation – wasn’t a calculated move to own a franchise of casino lobby tattoo shops or a t-shirt line based on a Maltese Cross or sell Misfits stickers in bulk to Hot Topic stores at the mall. No, they were kids who adored what they found in the pages of old copies of Hot Rod from the Fifties and Car Craft from the Sixties. They were picking up what was being cast-off by the street rodders and building hot rods with soul out of them. They inadvertently created an entire generation and living, breathing culture that turned into something so much larger than we’re sure they could’ve ever imagined.

Anthony built a classic, Sixties-era bubbletop dubbed the “Brown Neck Bandito” that’s still influencing builders to this day. He and his wife, Blue, bought The Doll Hut and fostered a generation’s worth of great music and art and shows there for years and years. As a member of the Shifters C.C., he helped carve out a touchstone for style and taste that custom car culture could always come back to and check itself…

In Emily Dutton’s 1995 documentary, “Desperate Generation,” a very young Anthony Castaneda explains what drew him to the lifestyle he helped turn into a global phenomenon at a time when nobody could’ve imagined what was to come. When we lost him, his foot was still in it and he never lifted.


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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Friday, July 19th, 2013

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Look, it’s an absolute truth that for every guy who will stand in a parking lot, beer-in-hand, watching another guy light a motor and wack the throttle a few times and giggle like an idiot, there’s a woman who shakes her head at him, rolls her eyes…and still goes home with him.

Have an absolutely fabulous weekend.


Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

photo: Thierry Le Goués

Y’know, if we had a dollar for every time some fool tells us that girls don’t belong in photos of bitchin’ cars and bikes and just about every other automotive thing…we’d have exactly $17.00.

Thierry Le Goués proves them all wrong once again, from all kinds of faraway places.


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…


Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

photo: Williams + Hirakawa

Of all the daughters of John Force – the Elvis Of Drag Racing – who followed in their father’s Funny Car footsteps, we never saw this coming from Courtney: a naked feature in this year’s ESPN magazine’s Body Issue.

Ashley? She’s the first sister to climb into one of those goofy, yet fast-as-hell, Funnies. And much as we loved her the most in the family’s short-lived reality show, “Driving Force,” we figured she wouldn’t have done this shoot: in our experience, it’s the rare husband who’d allow a nude shoot (the fools).

Brittany? Yep, we fully expected her to do it. She definitely seems like the one with her daddy’s crazy gene and who knows – we may still see her show up where we least expect it.

But Courtney? That one caught us asleep at the butterfly wheel. Good for her, though: she looks great and it ain’t the easiest thing in the world to bare it all on the dry lakes for a production crew the likes of an ESPN magazine shoot.

One of our favorite television moments of all time was watching the completely baffled look on John Force’s face as three of his daughters and his wife, Laurie, blow his ass up over something he thought he’d actually done right: total befuddlement. The man is one of the winningest drivers in one of the fastest motorsports to ever dare test the laws of physics and he just can’t figure out his wife or daughters. Just makes us love the man even more. So, we’re fairly certain that same look probably crossed his face when Courtney dropped this bomb on the old man, but he should be proud of her. It’s the new world and it’s beautiful.

Now, Brittany: we’ve got a shoot with a vintage Funny Car and a great idea we wanna talk to you about. Call us, girl…


Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Look, there comes a time when every race car owner/driver needs extra cash to feed the monster. That’s where corporate sponsorship comes in. At its ugliest, wooliest worst, sponsorship ends up looking like a Walmart NASCAR deal. But at its best, its a promo card for the latest marketing investment in a Healey roadster by the Village Purple Onion. We’ll take the latter all day long…


Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Just a few reasons why you should be looking at the National Geographic Tumblr EVERY. DAY.


Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

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Vintage D-fin longboards. Lowriders. Vintage BMX bikes. Skateboards. Cal Bugs. Customs. Hot rods. Music. Choppers. Boat races. Bikini girls. Sounds like the ultimate West Coast car show, no? All the great stuff that came out of California, all wrapped up in one glorious event. If we were to put on a show, this is what it would look like, believe that.

But…the CALFLAVOR show happens in Japan. That’s right, kids: JAPAN. And you know why it’s happening in Japan? Because the Japanese, like many other offshore strains of the car culture we’ve (sometimes unknowingly) exported over the years, look in on what we’ve done and love it so much…obsess over it in so much detail…nerd-out on every little thing we’ve ever done in ways we have a hard time understanding because we’re too busy actually living it…that a show like this makes all the sense in the world.

Of course they’ll put on a show like CALFLAVOR. They don’t hate tuners for their love of muraled-up lowriders and they don’t forsake a vintage Mongoose Motomag for a first-run Duane Peters deck. They don’t scoff at boat races from their Walmart lawn chairs perched beside their bagged shoeboxes (well, let’s be honest: they’ve got too much good taste to be seen with anything procured from a Wallymart). They love it all. Everything we made and invented and grew up with and designed and customized and left outside in the rain for way too long is absolutely cherished like a national treasure by the Japanese. And we fucking DIG THAT about them.

We love that they love it all so much. And what we also love is their wonderful Japanese-English-Japanese translator machine. Peer in and take a look around at the 2013 edition of CALFLAVOR show as the plans reveal themselves. We’re saving up for some Japan Airlines tickets as we speak…


Monday, June 3rd, 2013

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Good friend and tiki bar owner/historian/expert, Martin Cate, floored the drinking world on the West Coast a few years ago with his latest fiery watering hole, Smuggler’s Cove. Another tiki bar in San Francisco? Sure, why not? But it wasn’t just another. In a city with a rich history of tiki bars reaching back to post-WWII when returning G.I.s – flush with drunk-ass tales of the South Pacific and the tattoos to back ‘em up – cashed in on the ginchy fantasy world of Exotica, the concept of a tiki bar was nothing new. But Cate wasn’t building a typical tiki bar.

“Tiki” was a purely American cultural phenomenon that took hold as a form of escapism from the McCarthyistic Fifties – a fantasy land based on what the mysterious islands of the South Pacific might actually look, taste and sound like if the native folks were alcoholic white folks who sorta liked the jazz music of black folks and wanted a reason to go out in public dressed like Cuban folks. The tiki bar concept spread like a spilled Flaming Zombie from West to East in mid-century America, but fell out of fashion and into disrepair by the Eighties, waaaaaay unfortunately.

But with the advent of the Rat Rod movement and the Lounge scene in the early Nineties, Tiki came back. As we remember hanging out with Yankee Dave Walter years ago while he showed us his collection of contraband from the doomed Kahiki, it was clear that our generation was bent on re-lighting the tiki torch and incorporating it into our own version of custom car culture.

And that brings us to Martin Cate. He’d already gone gangbusters with his Forbidden Island in Alameda, CA, but Smuggler’s Cove was different: a rum bar based on the Caribbean Experience. Where Tiki had outriggers, Caribe had pirate ships. Totems? Dutch distillery ruins. Hawaiian shirts? Guayaberas. But what Tiki and Caribe always had in common was rum. And Cate knows rum. What he also knew was who he had to tap to build his Caribbean fantasy rum bar: Notcho Gonzales.

We just introduced you to Notch as part of the SFMOMA Maker exhibit last week, but it got us to thinking we hadn’t been back to the bar he helped Martin design and build. A two-story interior waterfall and vat-sized Scorpions? How could we not be in there every night? But what really got us was the June/July issue of Esquire and its Best Bars In America series: Smuggler’s Cove was billed as “…perhaps the nation’s reigning Tiki bar…”

Hands fucking down. What a hotrodder did for the Aliʻi of Tiki bars to build the adult version of “Pirates Of The Caribbean” could only be pulled off here in San Francisco. Smuggler’s Cove definitely deserves the Esquirian adulation and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how the worlds Tiki and custom car came together to do it. We love that shit.