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Posting is Not Permission

Food for thought, should you be a douchebag Googling for artwork to steal and utilize on your car show poster, cruise night flyer, tattoo, shop logo or tees, Trapper Keeper, whatever:

The internet and subsequent search engines are just that… A system that is designed to seek information utilizing an algorithm by which to display said found information in a discernible manner via internet server-based software. That’s pretty much it. It helps you to LOOK for things.

What it IS NOT is a fucking catalog of FREE ARTWORK for you to pick and choose from for your own low-rent ass to use as you please. Otherwise, it would have a name like “Internet Catalog of Free Art for You to Pilfer, You Soul-less Cocksucker.” Simply because it’s online does not imply CONSENT FOR USE. We artists post work to hopefully show our skills and draw an audience… and thus business, allowing us to earn a living through our chosen media. With the digital age, posting online is a necessary evil. We don’t post it to provide some bottomless well of nice things for you to take. That’s no different than walking out of a store without paying for the chair you’re carrying, and proclaiming that you “found it” on the sales floor. And leaving the artist’s name on the artwork does not compensate for your theft, or suddenly grant you with some superpowers of kindness and elevate you to hero status. You’re a fucking thief and a low-life. I know it sounds weird, but I’d bet that not one artist has a mortgage company that accepts “But look, they used my name here!” as payment. Come to think of it, it works quite the opposite.

Thus, to my artist friends, I humbly suggest the following:

Each time we find a work of a fellow artist being used without permission, we attempt to contact the offending party and get that artist paid. Failing this, we utilize family photos of said offending party as raw material for a Photoshop-based “Porn-Off”, wherein we recreate filthy scenes of debauchery and utter inhumanity, starring their loved ones. We can then gather and vote for the best use, or most original back-story. If confronted, we stand by the claim that we “found those pics online”, and felt it only fair, as we included as much information about that person as we could at the bottom of each image we create.

Posting is not permission.

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It’s No Breaking Bad, That’s for Certain…

There I am, watching The Love Boat, and it hits me: It’s not the sort of show you can just join midway through the third season. I’m completely lost at this point… The plot is all over the place.

I mean there’s a gopher loose on the ship, but then the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders show up, and then they’re all passing around this lamp with money in it… Next thing I know, there’s some horndog female Olympian who is skipping practice, but then a few episodes later on we’re back to football with this guy who may never play again, and just what in the fuck happened to Douglas Fairbanks Jr.? I mean, he was just on the boat!

…and don’t even get me started on the crossovers with other shows. Mrs. Brady, that fat guy from Eight is Enough… It’s a virtual mind-fuck trying to tie it all together from show to show. But challenge accepted.

Infographic Mastery Via Dessert

sweet potato pie

All of this “racial tension” talk, and nobody taking the time to look at the things that bring us all together and blur the lines put in place by some social constructs or other meaningless media-fueled bullshit designed to further divide. We’re all just people, really. And having never seen any of this “white privilege” stuff I keep hearing about in my own life, I figure I may not be 100% white. That in mind, I have created this sweet potato pie chart illustrating the things I enjoy from time to time that don’t quite fit the “white guy” stereotype.

sweet potato pie chart
Greater minds before me had speeches and rallies… I have a pastry. (look for a future post exploring the “Past Generations Compared to My Own: The Great Leader VS Guy Who Brings Dessert Popularity to Social Progress Importance Ratio”).

Looking back at this, I can make two key observations:
1. I should reverse the placement of “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” with “Chicken and Waffles”
2. Green-colored sweet potato pie is far more disturbing to look at than purple-colored sweet potato pie

The Illuminati and a Decidedly Darwinian Approach to Survival: My Best Ideas Come to Me in the Sandwich Spread Section of the Bread, Crackers and Cookie Aisle

And then it hits me. Again.

You often hear so much talk of the “Illuminati” and their “New World Order”. Sure, the Rothschild family and their ilk have the money and the power and the media and, well, everything else, and now they want your guns. And yet, we commoners have something they don’t: DIVERSITY.

Consider that all of these royalty-types had practiced inbreeding and incest throughout history to keep their bloodlines “pure”. If you stop to think about it, if we can all just get along for a little while longer, we can eliminate them without spilling a drop of their precious, better-than-you blood.

As I see it, they’re probably a generation away from being offed by a peanut butter sandwich.

Parental Budgeting 593

Actual conversation in my home (and either damned good reasoning to purchase a Miracle Ear for myself, or one heck of a play to save $.99 on an app):

“Why in the hell would you want super-saggy, aromatic, pocket-sweaty testicles?!”
“No, Dad. I said ‘Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars’.”
“Oh… Not sure that sounds much better. Let’s just forget this ever happened.”
“So can I get it?”
“Which one?”
“Never mind. I’ll ask Grandma.”
“You’ll speak no such filth to your Grandmother.”
“Just forget it.”

Fractally Speaking, It’s Just a Lot of Empty Space

I find it amusing that in mathematics you can be faced with an infinite sequence of iterates, and that in life or on social media you can be faced with an infinite sequence of idiots. While the former can create wonderful fractals like in the Mandelbrot or Julia sets, the latter just fills space.

Speaking of Mandelbrot and his cohorts, today I present the Brian Degree of Injective Idiocy, which aims to illustrate the vast complexity of idiots and their behavior, describing said behavior as a sort of Menger sponge (that being something which exhibits an infinite surface area and zero volume) based on the idea of the Facebook news feed. See that? Practical, fun applications of higher math. Memorize this, and you’ll be the smartest motherfucker at the water cooler. You’re welcome.

That said, consider the math behind the idiocy of what is a typical Facebook “news feed”. Keeping within the earlier examples of fractals, we can hypothesize that your news feed is like an example of a Cantor set or Sierpinski carpet (we’ll get into this in a minute) in that we have an example of something subdividing into smaller copies of itself by removing one or more copies (i.e. “Unfollow”), and continuing recursively, you wind up with more of the same, just in smaller, usually dumber servings.

Let’s put this into better terms to help form a mental image:

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that we’re applying the Cantor ternary set, and that the one-third we’re removing is that of “intelligently-written content” (leaving us with this space filled with isolated points that we can arbitrarily approximate by using the other points, usually finding another point someplace in the same neighborhood, and from here we can reason that there is some interrelation of the parts to create the topology of which we’re presented, and via this connecting of parts, we have this “perfect space” – not to be confused with “MySpace”, which was a collection of glittery GIF’s and self-absorption. This could be taken deeper with a discussion on Baire spaces, which is a great little play on words if you geek out to this shit like I do – in which the content IS the space it occupies). Imagine, then, that you have a two-dimensional square, and you subdivide that into nine smaller squares on a three-by-three grid, and then you remove the center square. This is the start of what’s called a Sierpinski carpet. You could do this to the remaining height squares to infinity. Picture your square as a three-dimensional cube (and that the squares we were removing are all cubes as well). That initial cube might represent the totality of your news feed. This complete, wonderful cube represents your hopes and dreams for an entertaining and informative batch of posts that can boost your mood for the day… bring a smile, help you catch up on friends and whatnot. At this point, your Facebook news feed is a Menger sponge (effectively a three-dimensional version of the Sierpinski carpet mentioned above, wherein each face of the cube is a Sierpinski carpet).

Then along comes reality.

First holes in your happiness are punched clear through by some ass re-posting a joke or meme from eleven months ago with a comment like “OMG, this is so totally ME!!”, and with that, the center cube is punched free. Following this, you see some fake-ass “news blurbs” with headlines like “In 3 Words, This Celebrity DESTROYS Dr. Benway’s Favorite Drink Recipe”, and the segmentation has begun. Adding a TON of surface area, but no real content. This segments further with each “share” of something you posted, or that sixteen of your friends already shared, and then some liberal douche decides to ruin it all and throw in some “cause” like protecting the Los Guanos mosquito breeding grounds, even though the bastards spread malaria and other nastiness (the mosquitos, as well). We could, at this point compare your feed to an Appolonian net, as we’re becoming aware of the circular nature of shared and rehashed posts which appear like fractals generating from triples of these circles, each being tangent to the other two… You could picture this as looking like bubbles at the top of your drink in a glass, with a distinct pattern forming around three central bubbles, with the consequent bubble patterns filling some Minkowski-Bouligand dimension, but that’s just getting crazy.

If you’re not careful, you can find yourself aimlessly walking around this infinite space of utter nothingness. If we consider that our Menger sponge/news feed is a closed set being bounded by it’s geometric shape; it is compact (you only receive the posts from friends and those feeds you have “followed” versus EVERY available feed or post on the totality of Facebook) and by nature it is an uncountable set as it extends to infinite space – it’s a universal curve (a curve being any object of Lebesgue dimension one; this includes trees and graphs with an arbitrary countable number of edges, vertices and closed loops, connected in arbitrary ways), and in a similar way, the Sierpinski carpet is a universal curve for all curves that can be drawn on the two-dimensional plane, and our Menger news feed here is a three-dimensional version of that – in that it has topological dimension one, and any other curve, or more precisely any compact metric space of topological dimension is homeomorphic to some subset of it, and again simultaneously exhibiting an infinite surface area and encloses zero volume. Noting that any intersection of the Menger sponge with a diagonal or medium of the initial cube M0 is a Cantor set (bear in mind, there exists a homeomorphism of the cube having finite distortion, squeezing the holes in our sponge/feed and leading to a Cantor set of zero measure… we could consider this to be a direct result of “well-executed trolling resulting in the fabled ‘Un-friending’ action”, but more on this another day). In this truth, we can see just how complicated idiocy can become if left unchecked, or worse, ENCOURAGED.. We can also see just how by dropping a little knowledge on one subject into another, we can make even the dumbest of subjects appear important, intelligent, and wind up with a post worthy of your time to have read in the first place.

Tomorrow, we’ll apply what we learned today about the Menger sponge/Sierpinski carpet and my Degree of Injective Idiocy to the example of a client of mine who is making the simplest of things on a project into a mindfuckingly complex fractal of infinite scope and absolutely no volume or consequence (with reference to wheel center cap selection), and attempt to decode the dreams I’m having (when I am able to find respite in sleep, that is) as a result of this madness.

Put Down the Frosting and Start Designing

show me
I have always been baffled that anyone who has no real experience building a car could ever consider customizing (or “designing”) one. I mean, consider the engineers who worked on the first computers. Guys like Gordon Bell or Alan Kotok who, having worked on the earliest computers like the TX-0 and so forth, and called upon their experience with the limitations of that machine when designing future machines (like the PDP-10 for example). They understood the machine. They had a grasp on the engineering behind the very function of it, and could utilize that experience in the trenches to craft each newer and better iteration. They found limitations in the machine. Weaknesses. They sought answers to the question “How can I make this BETTER?” …and they did so from the bones outward. They were connected to the very ideas behind what they worked on, and could thus move in new directions in an intelligent manner.
 
Being a custom car designer is no different. Without having an intimate understanding of the design and engineering of the systems which comprise the machine as a whole, it’s virtually impossible to “design” anything for it. Oh, sure, you can decorate that cake and put little frosting flowers all over, or plop a neat-o dingleberry or put some twist on an existing part, but you’re not really DESIGNING anything. If you’ve never torn a car down and then repaired things and put it all back together, you’re ill-prepared to hot rod anything. If you’ve never diagnosed an issue and then found a way to REPAIR a component (NOT simply “unbolt-and-replace”), or given thought to a shortcoming in the performance of or a component on said vehicle, and then engineered a fix, you’re not prepared to design ANYTHING custom for one. Even if you can imagine the shapes and flow of lines, or draw them in stunning detail, without that understanding and experience, you simply cannot effectively design fucking anything. You may be able to alter the look, but you sure as hell cannot design a better one.
 
This truth laid out, I find myself in an industry wherein I’m constantly reviewing and revising “designs” conceived by some talented illustrators, but the ideas presented lack application in any real-world scenario most times. And while I can’t blame these guys for trying, and certainly cannot fault them on creativity, I am forced to battle uphill, working through a pile of dreams and hopes that have gelled when met with the cold, hard truth of ENGINEERING. In almost every case, the pitfalls presented could have been avoided by having had some time in a shop, building and engineering solutions to the very design problems faced on each project. I’m forced to ask once again: How in the fuck can you DESIGN a complex machine when you LACK THE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THE DAMNED THING WORKS IN THE FIRST PLACE?! In many cases, I’d bet that it’s innocent omission… But every now and then you come across a blatant slap in the face, wherein the “designer” doesn’t give the respect to understanding the very thing he’s working on in the first place.
 
Is it too much to ask to have armed yourself with core fundamentals like basic suspension geometry or structural engineering or even chassis architecture? I’m not asking for someone to know it ALL (shit… there’s ALWAYS something to learn), but if you’re “designing” a wheel arch or opening, and you give little or NO thought to the wheel/tire combo and the resulting radius needed to clear that nifty new fender lip and avoid rubbing, or are slicing into a panel to move it with no thought of how that will affect the understructure (or how changing THAT will affect the vehicle in terms of strength or handling dynamics, and where plumbing or wiring will need to be re-routed), then you’re doing it wrong. Grab a fucking crash book, or spend a day in the wrecking yard. Do your homework. Measure things. KNOW that car, and design it INTELLIGENTLY. “That door handle is sure slick, buddy… but you have left no room to utilize any sort of MOUNTING HARDWARE.” From the simplest things to the more complex, I find that some guys pass by function and go straight for “wow” factor.
 
This all brings us back to our pal Leepu. The guy has a TV show, and in a bio it is stated that he had visited GMI (General Motors Institute), and I quote from that: “However, he was put off studying there by the volume of technical work therefore he decided to open his own workshop to get some practical experience.” VISITED a school. Put off by technical work. This may explain why he’s so willing to slice into a main structural component on a vehicle and compromise the very bones of the car, or ignore things like aerodynamics or suspension or even pesky trifles like wheel fitment. Effectively, we are presented with a hack… a 1:1 scale kit basher. Don’t get me wrong, it takes some skill to weld two things together, but it doesn’t impress me when you have no fucking plan or explanation for just WHY you’re joining those things in the first place. And you lose all respect from me when the combination of those parts you’ve created is questionably functional at best, and marginally pleasing to look at on the best of days. I bring this guy into our conversation here because he illustrates, nay, REPRESENTS everything that is wrong with what is sold as “design” in many cases.
 
Our industry sees a few shining stars each year, build-wise… Cars that look great and perform just as well. Yet for each of those, we have a handful that are loaded with “custom” touches applied simply for the sake of applying them, and can barely tolerate a drive from the trailer around the fairgrounds and back. The price tags are high, yet the engineering level is limited. And therein lies my frustration: We have at our disposal some of the finest engineering with regard to components… Bolt-in ready chassis, near-1000 HP engines and transmissions that can live behind them. Wiring systems that allow for plug and play performance and luxury accessories in hours versus days. Everything engineered to free up time to ENGINEER. We have the perfect storm of self-perpetuating design advancement, yet we lack the manpower and the fortitude to raise the fucking sails and capture that wind. The work involved in hoisting those sails is metaphorical, of course, it being more a case of learning vehicle systems and construction, and then applying that knowledge to DESIGNING versus simply decorating another theme cake.
 
Yet, here we are, sitting back while the world consumes shitty TV show after shitty TV show that do nothing but slap what I and many more have fought to make a legitimate industry of… Watching two-bit hacks run around like primates, pantomiming to some “drama” written by someone outside of the industry, and playing up the “grease monkey” mentality. I don’t see this industry as a soap opera. I see it as the means by which I feed my family. It’s about passion and intellect and talent and drive. Applying experience, knowledge and a desire to not just hang a scoop or bolt some large-by-fucking-hugely-oversize rims to a car, but to change the game and dig deep into that original hot rodding ethic of working to make something better in all ways than it could have ever been imagined when it rolled off of the assembly line. And as I see it, if you lack the fundamental knowledge and skill set to be a true custom car designer, then you are nothing more to me than some panel-banging monkey on a reality show, and my sworn enemy in the business.
 
Don’t get me wrong: If the TV shows like the one mentioned above are some sort of satire, at least have the courtesy of mentioning that in the credits or opening sequence. Give a disclaimer before some idiot attempts to mimic this crap, or worse, walks away with the feeling that this is what our industry is all about. Over the course of our history, we’ve had enough black eyes handed to us courtesy of a few miscreants. We stand at the crossroads of becoming the legitimate powerhouse of creativity and engineering that can push us well into the next century, or we can become the punchline to a joke on some poorly-produced cable TV show.
 
That said, ask yourself the next time you sit at the drawing board if you’re a designer or a decorator. And don’t get me wrong, there is a place for both… But know that if you’re the latter masquerading as the former that while I’m laughing at your shit, I do sincerely appreciate the check that came with the job of actually making your flourishes into something that works… even if two-thirds of it wind-up in the trash. And if that doesn’t get you angry enough to step up your game, you can always get a TV show and blow signal flare smoke at that rear spoiler. Some people like to watch that crap, and with your TV money you can open that bakery and really decorate some stuff, cupcake.

You Win Again, Camera

TLDR paparazzi

“Camera-Friendly”

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.

The Darkness Amid the Sparkle

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.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, We got Boned by Hollywood

poster

Absolute bullshit.

As I’m sure that you know by now, the theatrical release of The Interview has been scrapped. This hits me hard, no simply because we have another telling tale of a lily-livered leader caving to some megalomaniacal fucking jerk-off, but because I will be denied the movie poster I was waiting for.

If you know me, you know that I love film, and movie posters even more. I love the art… GOOD art, anyway. Not these stinking, non-creative turds they pass off regularly featuring a low/back-lit photo of protagonist/antagonist in front of (INSERT MAJOR MOVIE SET PIECE HERE), surrounded by typography and copy obviously created by a seven year old with better things to do… but really good work, like that of Drew Struzan, or Boris Vallejo (I mean have you SEEN his National Lampoon’s Vacation artwork??!), John Alvin, the Hildebrandt brothers, Frank Frazetta, Saul Bass, and on and on. As a filmmaker trapped in the life and career of an illustrator, I live vicariously through this medium until I can one day make that leap. But I digress.

You see, I was looking forward to grabbing a 27×40-inch, double-sided hunk of poster-y goodness from the film. It embodied many things that I enjoy: Propaganda-style art, great color pop, spectacularly tongue-in-cheek typographical layout, and it would be a great replacement for the Army of Darkness piece that currently hangs in my office. Whatever. I mean, it would have been a Guardians of the Galaxy poster (full theatrical release version, thank you), but those have gone crazy in price. Think of how great that poster would look as guests stop by for an…. wait for it… INTERVIEW on a podcast??!

poster

Anyway, I had attempted to place the order weeks ago, knowing that prerelease posters have been hanging around since Summer, and wanting to beat the rush… but was met with “Order Delayed” messages. Apparently, these were the hot item. Good deal… I’m in no rush, I’ll wait. Now, you can’t find them, and all orders are suspended. This PRECEDING an “official” announcement regrading the film. Hmmm. Conspiracy? Another red herring? Just another deflection of your attention? You do the math.

(Don’t get me wrong, I could drop a few hundred on eBay for one now, but  decided that that was money best spent on food, clothing and toys from the less fortunate, and that has me feeling a lot better than hanging something on a wall.)

I mean, seriously. It’s a comedy. A genius premise, and certainly a grand stage for slapstick and subversive humor. But to make threats to people for showing it… or SEEING it?! What in the fuck, Chuck?! This nearly harkens (almost wrote “Harkins”, ha-ha!) back to my days in Catholic grammar school, when the Czar… I mean “Principal” had threatened us kids with disciplinary action, should we dare to go home and watch the TV movie The Day After (looking back on that, I now see that I understand far more about the Book of Revelation than the so-called “leader” at that school, and that her claims of nuclear armageddon ca.1983 was far off from what the book describes. It pays to know the mindset and capabilities of those in charge, I’ve found…), as we’d suddenly be faced with some sense of mortality, and then have to write an essay about how bad that can be. I compared mine to the fear of ABBA appearing on The Love Boat, and then having said ship become beached upon an iceberg, and the band playing on, as hundreds perished… the final soundtrack to their icy deaths being “Dancing Queen”. Oh, the horror. Looking back, those essays helped to shape who I am today. The joke is on YOU, sister! I’m drawing cars AND writing dirty words, and not living under a bridge… yet, I digress once more.

The poster. I will not be getting mine. “There will be no Christmas”, quoth the beast. Simply because of a “hacking” incident and some threat. If these guys were really looking out for peace, they’d have shut down any number of shitty movies, and let this one roll. Seriously. I STILL want a refund for my time having to sit through that steaming pile “The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of a Viable Screenplay” (should you have missed my feelings on THAT shit festival, scroll back a ways). I mean, if this were a publicity stunt, holy balls it would be great. But when you can’t even grab the poster? That’s either a sign that the marketing firm behind it all is absolutely inhuman brilliant and committed to detail, or that it’s the real deal, and we just sold out to bullies.

If these folks at Sony were REALLY interested in cyber security, they’d listen up. Hell, they’d have already done this, but let’s not split hairs. You can either implement this genius plan, or make a movie about it (and then scrap it when some freak sends a letter):

You grab the laptop from some porno addict, and you plug that hairy, sticky, probably-would-blind-you-and-burn-your-shadow-into-the-wall-if-placed-under-a-blacklight tool of debauchery into the network as your honey pot. Hacker logs on, and BAM! Enjoy your “free” trial and bajillion pop-ups, you fuck. Give me a shout for the rights and title ideas. The simplest of solutions often eludes us. I’m here to help. Hell, I’m always here, usually working, as I don’t golf or vacation much, and still have yet to receive reparations for the Polack jokes my people have suffered the ill effects from.

Mr. Rogan, I appeal to you thusly: Please sell me a poster from The Interview, as I’m having little luck in finding one on my own. No freebies or other nonsense, as there are much better outlets for charity… I simply want to celebrate the creativity you put into the film. My other options have wavered between a nice Hellboy first-run piece, or the iconic “The Thing”… but what I really wanted was my damned first choice, and I’m certain that you can empathize, much as I do with your situation. Wishing you only the best, sir.

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