Conversational snippets from the Romantic Life of Brian:
The scene: My beautiful wife and I transferring groceries from cart to the cashier’s conveyor belt. I take notice of a celebrity on the cover of a gossip rag. Cue intellectually stimulating discussion.
“Wow… she really let herself go.”
“That brings to mind my cousin. The one who got pregnant, you know, ‘from the toilet seat’. Aside from the craziness of it all, I’ve always been left to question one thing.”
“Yeah… what was she doing in that neighborhood anyway?”
Jinn and Juice.
Great duos make the movie sometimes. Consider Marty and Doc. Tango and Cash. Kirk and Spock. Jake and Elwood or John Connor and the Terminator, or Riggs and Murtaugh… How about Vincent and Jules, or Hansel and Zoolander? You get the drift. Much like Han and Chewie (or even Hall & Oates, if you’ve read my notes for a toe-tapping Star Wars reboot — oh, they do write themselves), the pair should have balance in their differences and similarities. While one is always the “by-the-rules” straight-laced character, the other does things his own way.
Keeping with the Star Wars re-boot idea, I humbly suggest scrapping the prequels, and taking a page from every cop duo ever, and putting Qui Gon Jinn and OJ together to “negotiate” with the Trade Federation, and then taking down the Empire, one wrinkly shitbag after the next.
I even have taglines:
“One is a Jedi Master; the other a washed-up football player with a mean streak.” “Jinn uses the lightsaber, while Juice prefers something a little more traditional.” “One just wants peace and order in the Republic, and the other simply wants his trophy back. Together, they’re the action duo of the Summer’s biggest action blockbuster!”
*side note: There is a reference in Episode I to “Juice”. Bonus points if you know it without the aid of a search engine.
Digging through a folder of assorted notes I’ve written, and I stumbled across this gem:
“A cacophony of flip-flops, crying kids and a loose shopping cart wheel that goes clackity-clackity-clackity-click-click-thump-thump-thump-thump-clackity-thump.”
One might think I’d remember just what in the fuck that was all about; much less that at some point I was writing a Disney musical number. Phil Collins is going to have a hard time writing the score for this, but hey, that’s on him. Hit me if you’d like to purchase the rights to a brilliant idea for a Walter Mitty meets Toy Story meets Full Metal Jacket meets an Un Chein Andalou/Tarzan-esque animated spectacular.
There’s a shitty phrase. As someone who’s face isn’t classically “camera-friendly”, I have to wonder just why in the fuck I’d want to be friends with the camera in the first place. Consider: The camera is a liar. Or, more appropriately, the camera’s marketing guy is a liar. The present-day camera, anyway, suffers from a serious case of identity confusion. It’s that whiny emo kid that just can’t be itself because everyone is making it be something else, but in this case it’s perfectly justified because people are making it into something it shouldn’t have to be. But more on that later.
You’re sold (in the old days, anyway, when the camera wasn’t too busy receiving sales calls for life coaching (Unrelated But Yet Related And Certainly Worth Exploring Sidebar, or “UBYRACWES” — which, in hindsight, looks eerily like “you be racist” — but we’ll roll with it because, well, fuck you, you privileged son of a bitch: The person making these spam calls to help coach your life is probably making $13./hr, working from a call center, and pushing some book on you that, while probably very vague in its own right, will never have you reaching any higher than the call center person, and you’ll be $49.99 deeper in the hole, rendering you unable to afford to send photos of the following), status updates regarding meaningless trifles in the life of some bastard you would never have a beer with and their lunch salad that was “off the chain” (truly a description better reserved for that “chicken” you had at the buffet, or calls that you’ll ignore anyway on some cheap box of mirrors that will capture your awesome life, and the memories and all of that nonsense. Yet the reality is, you’re going to find that many of your subjects (i.e. “children”, “relatives”, “drunken friends”, et.al.) will be less than “photogenic”, rendering many of your life’s memories in a less-than-flattering light.
In the old days, when you had to use film and have it processed and wait for the results of your shitty photos, there were no “on-the-spot-do-overs” or “let’s do that again’s” (ooh… UBYRACWES time; or more appropriately “SCRACWES” — or “Somewhat Closely Related And Certainly Worth Exploring Sidebar”— the “retake” photo. Remember these in school? “Hey, all of you less-than-average-looking/non-camera-friendly types, be in the Library next Wednesday during the middle of the Chemistry final that Mr. Arminstrinberger won’t let you out of for the ten minutes it would take to re-shoot your graduation photo now that – not mention saving some poor motherfucker with an airbrush and a bad sense of humor like fifteen minutes to fix in post the agony of having to look at – the remnants of that zit you tried to rush along, but at the time of the original photo looked like a terrifying cold sore has healed enough to hide with that flesh-toned Clearasil –matched, obviously to someone with far “whiter” genes, like what’s-her-face from that Regis Philbin show… something Gifford. Kathie Lee! – but that’s another UBYRACWES for another time – and the odd wind and rain-styled ‘do you were sporting that day to play some distraction”), you simply dealt the hand you were given because film was expensive and every shot COUNTED, and waiting for the magic elves in the FotoMat to develop them so you could drive up, get them in your hand and promptly throw them out along with half a weeks’ pay, learning the valuable life lesson that not everything is best printed on quality Kodak paper. The camera was an unforgiving prick, and it often coupled with a partner, the “unflattering flash cube”, which was like the shit-sandwich combo of the big doofus in third grade who would point out your flaws to everyone (especially if they involved your poverty, which in turn was a direct cause of you wearing uncool sneakers and hand-me-down Toughskins with weird little patches in the knees that the corners would slowly peel back on), with the added bonus of his Salacious B. Crumb-like sidekick adding that extra layer of bright light to help magnify the flaws, should anyone have missed them on the first click.
Thus, I am not “camera friendly” in either the classical sense (read as “homely”), or even the more esoteric sense (as in “hey, camera, thanks for all of the great memories! Let’s be pals!”). The camera can suck it. In fact, I hope that Hell for cameras is when they end up in the Colonsocopy room. I can bear witness to having hoped that on one or two occasions (making this another UBYRACWES, but with a Too Much Information twist) that the camera in use was the reincarnation of my seventh-grade photo (“How you like me NOW, camera?! See anything INTERESTING? Oh… you do. Fuck. You win again, camera.”). I do wonder, however, just why we have yet to apply technology to video in the way we have to sound. Consider just how many “singers” aren’t exactly “microphone friendly” without the aid of processing and Auto-Tune and all of that. I can see someone like myself being overlaid (and consequently “over LAID” if you catch my drift!) with a little computer enhancement, and starring on a TV show. Sort of like Jar-Jar Binks (I’m getting a bit excited for the new Star Wars movies. Deal with it.), but like 11.2% less endearing. And probably less pants during sweeps week, but I digress.
I’d suppose that people today have it better, camera friendship-wise, thanks to re-takes and Photoshop (and possibly due to the slowly dwindling eye broccoli class of folks — another UBYRACWES with serious Darwinian subject matter) have it far easier than our generation with the Instamatic and flash cubes, making it easier to be friends with the camera. After all, I never once got driving directions from a Minolta 35mm that were worth a shit, although I did manage to lift the Katakana for “Film Goes Here” from one and convince a girl to have that tattooed under the impression that it meant “beautiful blooming orchid” (adding another layer of irony, consider that this was done as a tramp stamp, and I’d bet that few things have bloomed in that vicinity even remotely resembling an orchid – a lactose intolerance on her behalf could provide at least half a chapter of laughs via one of those SCRACWES with a grand TMI kicker). I can only hope that one day she’s having a Colonoscopy and that Dr. Fong gets a little chuckle as that camera gets another taste of its own medicine, courtesy of her cave of unholy winds.
If you have a few minutes to spare, be sure to head over to CarArtSpot.com, and check out my recent interview with Marcel. It was a fun and laid-back time, and the man certainly can host a fantastic interview.
I always rate an interviewer by their demeanor and ability to converse naturally, and Marcel raced to the top of my list almost instantly. It was like talking with an old friend, and his manner of asking questions was relaxed, and it made that awkwardness that usually accompanies talking about oneself disappear entirely. I found a certain sense of introspective peace at the end of our time talking, and a smile on my face.
We talked cars, art, design, inspiration, and future plans and dreams. Truly a little something for everyone!
While you’re visiting the site, be sure to check out the many other great interviews and artwork from some truly talented artists and designers! It’s educational and inspiring in many ways!
Again, my sincere thanks to Marcel for his time, consideration and graciousness. A big tip of the hat for all that he does to celebrate and promote the working automotive artists!
A lot of talk the past few days regarding the car show world, from politics to rules and more. I had been writing a piece about this very subject prior to Detroit, and then felt it best to hold off on publishing it, as there were things afoot that could have made my post look, well, far more bitter for all of the wrong reasons. Rest assured, this is nothing more than my observations on the whole car show/industry slide toward oblivion, and not some “oh, they didn’t give us a trophy” or other nonsense. For fuck’s sake, we’re adults. And yes, it’s long. Should you happen to be some illiterate shit, or far too busy looking up memes or fail videos to read a few paragraphs, well, there’s the wonder of the internet, Billy Bob: Scroll the fuck past. Nobody asked you to chime in with your “I dun dint read, cuz it were long” reply. It’s a safer world knowing that the likes of you stick to looking at pictures anyway.
Some may be offended by my opinions/observations, and that’s cool. The truth can pack a nasty stinger.
Think back to the first indoor car show you attended. Chances are, you were a young and impressionable gear head who was floored by the kandy and chrome ocean you found yourself dropped into. Take that a step further, and consider the first ISCA-type show car that made an impression on you. Chances are, you went home and drew that car, or built a scale model of it, or simply daydreamed about it in class. I’m betting that to this day you can picture the car, and still get a little blip in the heart rate from it. It’s etched somewhere in your car psyche. It plays a role to this very day in what you like or don’t like on four wheels. It’s IMPRINTED on the very part of you that’s tagged “CARS” on that dotted-line diagram of your brain.
Custom cars, to anyone just discovering them are MAGICAL. They have a power far beyond propelling people across the pavement. They take on a life beyond their perceived purpose. They tend to grow with us. I’d bet that your memory even skews a few facts about them, and maybe even glosses over a flaw or two, lifting them even higher in your memory of their perfection. You do that with nearly everything you grow attached to. I’m betting my wife does that about me. Thinking about this, I should go give her a hug. And clean the living room.
Compare the above to recent shows, assuming that you still attend them. Any cars that simply “do it” for you like that? Do you still feel that emotional attachment or charge? I certainly don’t, and I’m smack dab in the middle of this whole thing, designing custom vehicles for a living. I try to create the kinds of things that some kid will recall 30 or more years down the road, and bring up in bench racing sessions. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some in the recent past that come close to “doing it” for me, and continue to inspire, but the industry as a whole has changed… the whole mood is dark lately.
Let’s not sugar coat this:
Car shows are the NFL of our world. A money-making enterprise. It makes sense, as they are a business, and the purpose of any business is to make money. I’m all for success, and doubly-so if your mission is to pocket some coin, and you happen to be doing that. Good on you. But the focus on the money changes things… It’s warped the very spirit of this car thing, and dragged it so far away from celebrating the automobile as art, and taken us to the automobile as return on investment or a showdown of who can spend more or grab the most ink in some magazine that’s months behind the times, and struggling to tell you that it’s still somehow relevant and that the internet is killing it, when in fact, they’re killing themselves and the industry by celebrating this push downward with third-rate articles and seven page features on uninspiring cars that would have been better served as a savings account. Again, don’t get me wrong. We are in a time of incredible talent with regard to the builders and designers and tools we have available to us in this industry. Yet, we’re losing the youth. Involvement is dropping among the next generation. And it is most certainly NOT because some kid grew up in the back seat of a Honda, or inherited a mini van as his first ride. That is a bullshit cop-out. Not every major builder or designer today grew up riding shotgun in a pro-street Chevelle, or had some Boss Mustang dropped in their lap for a first car. We drove uninspiring shitboxes. If you think that somehow more inspiration to build a ground-breaking, next-level beast of a ride comes from looking at a non-functional fuel gauge in a cracked dashboard in a rusty ’73 Monte Carlo any more than it does from the same situation in a third-hand Subaru, you are brain damaged. The next self-righteous motherfucker to use that excuse gets a foot in their ass. Allow me to shed some light on the REAL problem:
Today, it’s all nothing more than some bullshit cool kids club. Gone are the days of the “car as design statement” or even “rolling testament to craftsmanship” for the most part; we’ve hacked and slashed the soul from it all, and would up in a wasteland of cubic budgets and branding. It’s not about a fun build that pushes the limits of imagination, or thumbs its nose at conventional transportation, or even inspiring some budding builder to go and do likewise. Rather, it’s intimidating at best with endless checkbook builds where the goal is closer to making a name or a shop or builder, or trading damned-near a million (ad sometimes more) dollars for a trophy and a check that covers the transportation and week-long lodging and food for the crew supporting the car than it is to build for the sake of pushing skill. What in the serious fuck?! You expect ANY kid to want a part of that? Unless daddy is a CEO and is bankrolling the project, the odds get slimmer as we venture further down the income ladder. And don’t throw me this bone of plopping some car into the top five that doesn’t belong there as some gesture of “giving the average guy hope”. We all know it’s bullshit, and you can bet that you aren’t doing that guy or some kid attending his first show any good. He can see though the “everyone is a winner” bullshit. He has to each day at school.
Like anything, the moment it becomes more about money than the challenge of creating something, all is lost; it becomes a caricature of the very thing it used to be. We’re creating a hobby and industry filled to the brim with reality show-grade celebrities and hucksters, some with legions of fans who are undereducated enough to praise mundane and often idiotic design choices. And seeing the shows pander to one or two big-name builders, well… If you’re going to tell me that you can’t, without some degree of near pin-point accuracy pick put the cars that will be at the top of any show before the gates even open, then you’re either a lying sack of shit, or you’re holding onto that childhood innocence, and hoping to be inspired again. Perhaps the Pearl Paint Fairy will leave an airbrushed monster shirt under your pillow tonight, too. Innocence is lost. And it ain’t going to be found in the direction we’re headed.
The irony here is that we live in the greatest time, technologically speaking anyway, for production performance cars. 707 HP Challengers and Chargers??! While we were wandering the show indoors, looking at ‘flake paneled and blown bad-assery, outside in the frozen parking lot was a dismal (at best) display of smog-choked, poorly assembled and designed garbage. It was depressing. 170 HP was considered “performance”, and there wasn’t any sunlight poking over the next hill. That glow was from the flashers on the broken-down heap that couldn’t make it up the next grade. And maybe, just maybe THAT is what makes it all so fucking soft today. We DON’T HAVE TO AIM HIGH ANYMORE. We’ve managed to settle into a world of instant gratification., and that creates a laziness, and an unwillingness to try to raise a bar that we’re told is already so sky-high. That in mind, we’ve abandoned the things that brought us all here in the first place, and instead are chasing the lowest common denominator, the “my dick and checkbook are THIS BIG” attitude.
It’s a dark time, kids. Replace the breaker before it’s too late.
I see far too much of this bullshit on the interwebz:
“I’ll do your rendering for $100!”
With “rendering” meaning “a loosely cobbled-together bunch of photos I Googled and then made attempts to stitch together with the two tools I can sort of use in Photoshop.”
One last time, kids: NOT a rendering. Not on the best day of your life. And if you’re paying for, and supporting this crap, well, you’re not “on a budget”, you’re “A BIG FUCKING PART OF THE PROBLEM”. While it’s great that some cars have a huge-by-enormous budget for exotic and one-off parts, you simply need to realize that care and planning can make even a home-built ride a stand-out. If you’re willing to cheap-out on the very design of your project, well, it’s a given that you’ll do likewise in the build. And please don’t come to me in the eleventh hour of your SEMA proposal deadline with some fucking sob story about how you need a rendering, but you already threw money away on the photo-hack you just received from the kid on the forum. You knew going into it that some $100 rendering wasn’t going to make a manufacturer all hot and bothered, and squeeze out a new car for you. Too many things wrong with that mindset to even approach it here.
There are professionals out there who do great things in Photoshop, should that be the look you’re after… and plenty of other artists working in all media (should one of those be the look you’re after) who can craft something to actually be proud of, versus bragging that it only cost a few bucks. A rendering is a work of artistry and design, and a good one brings years of experience and knowledge to the table… Not simply some shit that your seven year old could pull off in 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the photo-hack of the Hirohata Merc will always be just a photo-hack of the Hirohata Merc and not YOUR Merc, no matter how many layers of flames or how big a set of smoothie wheels with poor camber and perspective some douche pastes on there. And for the record, you’re not “helping some new artist get a start”. You’re simply enabling yet another talentless hack with either a trial or pirated software to further soil a part of the industry that works its ass off to be continually undervalued. You deserve a series of ingrown toenails and festering boils on your heels, you dirtbag.
A rendering should represent YOUR vehicle, and showcase the pride and planning of your project. You know, thinking about it, maybe some projects are best left at this level anyway.
/drops knowledge AND the microphone; heads off stage.
Spent some time with Kevin over at V8TV (and V8 Speed & Resto!), and we recorded a podcast for your enjoyment.
We talk design, cars, the future of the custom car industry/hobby and more… before devolving into custom vans, and a plan for the ultimate SEMA show display vehicle and and interactive pavilion to house the thing. It’s genius.
I had a blast talking with a good friend, and can’t wait to do it again! HUGE thanks again for having me on!
Give it a listen here: http://www.v8radio.com