Tag Archive | history

Cat Videos and Murder

This month marks twenty-five years of the web.

Enjoy the FIRST-EVER cat video, from nearly one hundred years before the web. A film recorded in Edison’s office of boxing cats, which neatly ties together the history of a place that has become a bastion for thieves, Copyright infringement and other debauchery, via a motion picture, which Edison stole the patent for by murdering Louis Le Prince.

Hooray progress. Thanks, Al Gore.

Miming Towns of the Old West

If you’ve ever abandoned all fear and simply wanted to know the thoughts that go through my head, here’s a sample from the “Television in BrianLand” File:

“Tonight on Miming Towns of the Old West, Marcel Montana. We’ll visit a place where the winds rip so violently through the main square that residents have evolved to walk at a near sixty-degree angle.”

[cut to scene of cowboys leaning against non-existent boxes while one pulls on an imaginary rope to lead an equally imaginary horse – VOICEOVER: “Yes, it’s never a dull day here in Marcel, sister city to Paris, France. Here we see Bose ‘Mr. Pockets’ Ketchum wrangling some lunch!”]

“We’ll visit the high-security prison [wide shot of three men “trapped” in an imaginary cube], and get to know a four-hundred pound local known only as ‘Tumbleweed.'”

“Survivor” Sounds Like a Stretch

The Ted Kennedy Collection promises to be a huge draw at next January’s Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction…

(cue rim-shot)

You Can’t Just Hand Someone Entitlement

A successful culture builds upon the past, providing each generation to follow with not only the tools to continue their growth, but the foundation to build upon.

However, watching these Sanders supporters in action, it’s painfully obvious that the new idea is to eliminate the last generation of free-thinking Americans. The ones who were fortunate enough to listen to first-hand accounts of horrors brought forth by rogue governments and dictators and despots. The generation following mine is somewhat clueless, having been the first of the hard-core “participation trophy” and “no-spanking” bullshit style of passive parenting. And THEIR kids, these miserable, candy-assed, lazy fucking douchebags…They teeter on barely functioning, intellectually, and utterly clueless issue-wise, yet they sure as hell have no problem rambling on and on via 140 character-long rants of piss-poor grammar. They’re distracted and entitlement-borne, and primed to usher in the golden age of another “leadership” disaster. And don’t kid yourself, you saw it this week already: The fix is in. They’re not even wasting time with the lube and dirty talk they had to employ in 2008 and ’12. They’re diving right on in, because they’ve already laid claim to it when you opened that door the first time.

Hyphenate it any way you want, but Socialism is Socialism, and it has NEVER WORKED, PERIOD. Erase history and rewrite it all you’d like, but simple facts remain. To function at even the most base levels, that idea requires a working class. And expecting that class to be earning a huge salary only leads to crippling inflation, and a lack of demand for product, which eliminates the jobs. The ouroboros eventually runs out of tail to munch upon.

Yet, if you’ve raised a couple of generations on empty promises and worthless goals like celebrity and material worship, anything with “free” in the name becomes nearly impossible to NOT want, and by the act of merely offering it you can garner support. After all, nobody actually expects it to be delivered upon; they’re conditioned to live for the thrill of that moment when it’s MENTIONED, bracketed by whatever hashtags are trending. It’s brainwashing and conditioning, and they’d realize this if they had to attend any of the classes they’ll pass simply for having signed-up in the first place. And you can’t expect any of them to pay for shit they don’t use, right?

It’s 2016, and the future is fucked.

Titanic Number Two: The Remnant

Oscars on your mind? Me neither, because I work for a living. But that didn’t stop me from crafting a little Movie mash-up for you. I’m a giver, after all. That said, enjoy this blended mash of Titanic and The Revenant. I call my treatment Titanic Number Two: The Remnant.

All I ask is that you sticklers suspend your “timeline” and “historical facts” bullshit for this overview. This is a movie. They’re meant to entertain. We have books and whatnot for “facts” and “historical preservation.” Go read one.

A Gilbert Grape-era Leo is in steerage aboard the Titanic, which is transporting French carnival animals to the US, because the American ones don’t smell enough to be taken seriously (also, Chris Rock needed a paycheck, and his reprising of the whole Zebra voice-over role really adds a Jar-Jar Binks quality that many dramatic films seems to miss lout on). While a stowaway, Jack Grape befriends a bear, and the bear shares his food, and Jack draws pictures of it in fecal matter (whose, exactly is never discussed) on the walls as dramatic music is played. Stanley Kubrick can guest-direct this scene as an homage to his own work, that self-important hack. Eventually, a bored First-Class passenger wanders to the lower decks in search of adventure and trendy bohemian-looking trinkets to steal from the dying, or to trade items from the cheese cart with the near-dying. Leo meets this girl, and they do it in front of the bear. Sex back then wasn’t all that romantic. Hell, these two do it right there, and Jack even draws a picture of it using fecal matter, the source of which is known this time.

The Titanic is taken hostage by a group of Russian paramilitary types, and their poorly-drawn map (stolen from a Dora the Explorer activity set) guides them straight into an iceberg, placed into the script so that the Liberal director can voice his opinion on global warming by killing eleven hundred penguins (again, suspend your geographical knowledge). As the boat sinks, Jack chooses the girl over the bear as sex with her proved slightly less painful. However, the bear survives, making its way South through Canada (in the two movies it takes to cast many, many cameo appearances) to find Jack, where it wreaks a revenge similar to Misery, but all Smaug the Dragon-like, assuming that he were breathing poo instead of fire.

Leo gets help from three penguins who survived the original wreck by latching onto his nipples (to explained in the Director’s Cut), all voiced by Liam Neeson, and they capture the bear, and skin it for a rug in their new home.

Credits.

In the alternate ending, we learn that the whole thing was a dream, taking place in the subconscious of Jack’s alternate personality.

More credits.

When Did Hot Rodding Become Hip Hop?

bedalle hip hop rodding

A little piece I threw down for Tubbed Magazine. Stop by and enjoy the second coming of Pro-Street.

Think back to your first memorable experience that set your fate as a “car guy.” Don’t let nostalgia sway you, just blurt it out. Just roll with the first one that comes to mind.

I’d be willing to bet that it had nothing at all to do with what anyone else thought of you. Taking that a yep further, I’d sweeten that bet by adding that it had nothing to do with fame or money. While one or two of you may have though about the guy with the bitchin’ ride in your hometown that got all of the girls  or that every other guy wanted to be, that seems pretty normal, and had nothing to do with defining just who you were. It started with the car, right?

Along that patch of blacktop we all travel on our way to becoming full-fledged car guys, we all get a taste of the pride that comes with a thumbs-up at a stoplight, or the strangers wanting to discuss our cars and the one they had “just like it” back in the day. Ego always grows a bit to fill those freshly upholstered bucket seats, and it’s all fine if you know how to keep it in check. And if you had any car guy friends worth anything, they knew how to help you keep that in check. It’s what good friends do.

It’s a family.

Compare your memories to what any kid coming into what remains of the hobby today will know it as:
A bunch of posturing and ego-driven, money-hungry wannabe celebrities driving catalog-sourced vehicles destined to provide big returns at auction. In an entitlement-driven, fame-is-everything era, we’re losing the real car guys and builders to a steady stream of TV stars and project managers. It’s an awful lot like Hip Hop and reality TV: Just a load of “look at me” bullshit with no redeeming value. And having already conquered reality TV, it’s not a far stretch to see the whole thing sink to a level of commerce-driven stereotypes telling you what’s cool this week, and making everything so base and trend-driven that they’ll be left with little choice but to either cannibalize the damned thing, or just leave it to die and move to the next.

Let’s roll with the whole Hip Hop analogy. Let’s create a fictional car guy who maybe came into the scene in the late-1970’s. He’s stoked about these “Pro-Street” cars, and can’t get enough of the look. It becomes in his mind the right look: Big, fat tires out back, a rake, skinny tires up front, and perhaps some form of induction poking though the hood. The essentials are in place. Our budding car guy is exposed to cars like Joe Ruggirello’s Mustang II or Lisk’s Challenger or Kollofsky’s ’55 Chevy (side note: Anyone else find it coincidental that all of these guys have names befitting a cool character or bad-ass cop in a movie?) or any other of a series of killer, pro-style bruisers. And much as any fan of what would come to be called “Hip-Hop” would have heard Grandmaster Flash or the Cold Crush Brothers early on and been drawn to it for the unique approach and the imagery it inspired in anyone outside of the Bronx, what would come to named “Pro-Street” did likewise to anyone who never cruised Woodward.

While Hip Hop evolved by taking outside influences from funk and soul to new wave and even punk, Pro-Street did likewise, borrowing from Street Freaks and Street Rods and other places, always looking to raise the bar just a touch. And, like anything gaining popularity, each had a stand-out that came to be the face of the movement: Hop Hop had acts like Run DMC, and we scored with names like Sullivan, Dobbertin and Hay (they could play the law firm in that film idea mention earlier). And in that popularity of a select few, we can trace the evolution of each, mans see the ongoing influences applied to shape just where each might head.

Like anything that goes popular, there exists the danger of haven it buckle under its own weight. While Pro-Street suffered from a number of ills, we could blame the decline on magazine saturation and constant competition to be the next big thing, with cars adding more extreme power plants and detailing and so-on, that it just became a caricature of itself, and begged for something to step in and rebel against it. We wound up with Pro-Touring, which didn’t seem to heed its own warnings, and is finding itself on a similar path. As for Hip Hop, it changed from a creative ocean of experimentation and arrangement to a soul-less money farm in the 1990’s (oh, the similarities between Hip Hop and Pro-Street are many, kids), and eventually a sad joke with all of the “gangsta” posturing and crunk-style bragging. (Side note 2: Consider that Dr. Seuss coined the phrase “crunk car” back in the 1970’s, and you start to feel all lightheaded, right? Scary how that works.) Where Hip Hop and its offspring found their way into the mainstream via MTV and radio play, hot rodding was doing likewise via major events, magazines and videos. TV wouldn’t be far behind.

It’s not such a far reach then, to  compare Hip Hop and Hot Rodding. Each became a pale version of its former self once television became a part of the marketing. Hell, we could take this little notion on a whole other ride, but let’s settle on the marketing of each as being hand-in-hand harbinger of destruction forthe movement. Don’t get me wrong, I get the money thing… We all need to eat. But when the problems come banging down the doors, they usually look like the fresh-from-College guys from Marketing. And when they come visiting, even the goldfish stop swimming, if you get my drift. The dollar signs flash, and it’s off to the races. On the music side, it becomes about selling the image of what Marketing thinks that it should be, with reference to moving product (as Yogurt the Wise taught us so many moons ago, the real money is in merchandising). You craft an image, and get the kids to buy into that.  On the car side, it’s eerily similar: Craft an image of what someone outside of the whole thing thinks it should be (based upon what the data shows will sell), and run with it, facts be damned if need be. Understanding that, it’s not so difficult to see why we had shows like Orange County Choppers or, keeping with the theme, Pimp My Ride. On one hand, you had screaming and yelling and time crunch drama because, by golly, that has to be how it is in a real shop, right? The natural outgrowth was American Hot Rod, Wrecks to Riches and their ilk. They appealed to the “behind the scenes” exclusivity gene which TV inserted into the genetic code, and never mind how skewed from reality it might be… Just cash that check and find more shit to fight about. Take that a step further in the appeal to “you can sell these cars and make money!” idea, and by golly, the shows practically write themselves. I am convinced that there are but two formulas for any reality-based show:

1. The Shop as setting for drama (family, client/shop, contest, money or otherwise) formula,
2. The find it/buy it/fix it up/sell for profit/repeat formula

…each of which may be seasoned to taste by adding celebrity appearances, surprises, some form of competition, pranks or canned “tech tips” wherever holes appear in the story line. Take a long, hard look at Monster Garage and tell me it isn’t so. Shit, get a hold of a script from Lords of the Car Hoards, Unique Whips, Leepu and Pitbull or Fast N Loud, mix them all up, and I’d bet that a seven year old could put a season’s worth of shows together at random, and you’d never be able to tell the difference. You could do likewise with any current Hip Hop video premise. It’s not about telling a story or building a cool car; it’s about who can brag the loudest. And that opens the door to really scary things, and can usher outcomes like not unlike the Lucifer Effect, as postulated by Philip Zimbardo (aka the Stanford Prison Experiment), wherein the wheels can be put into motion that make a good person do some really twisted evil things. I mean, what would the dollar amount be for you to sell out and bastardize the car hobby you love? Roll with your first instinct. That’s a lot of fucking zeros, isn’t it? And that’s chump change when the Advertising Department bros get involved (and you thought that little fishie was holding still earlier? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet). And when the image consultants and writers come to play, you’ll hardly recognize yourself. It doesn’t take a lot to go from singing about your sneakers over a sampled loop to bragging about the women you slept with in the penthouse last week and how big the rims on your SUV are when the residuals roll in.

And that’s where we stand today: It’s not about some guy with a cool 1970’s action movie cop name building a kick-ass machine that will set your synapses afire, blazing a whole new path for thought across your brain or even mashing two things together that have never been mashed before. It’s about having some money guy or project manager (at best) playing the douche (OK, sometimes it’s not a stretch for the guy. As a wise man once told me, “Only two kinds of people wear sunglasses indoors: Rock stars and assholes. Be on the lookout for a guitar.”) and creating some filler to top with ad sales. It’s loosely connected product placement opportunities designed to make the numbers so that Trent and Blaine in the front office can keep that tee time. You don;t have the imagination or thrill of discovery involved with your entry to the hobby anymore. Instead, you have an image to play up to, and try to out-douche so that you can make your own mark and score that show.

After all, it isn’t about the cars anymore, unless they’re a prop for your bitches to lean against while you pose with jewelry and assorted gold-plated handguns. While I can appreciate how anyone uninitiated into the family that is hot rodding can fall for this, you can bet your ass that I’ll be stepping into frame and doing my best to drop knowledge on Quick Mix Theory and Bill Jenkins’ Pro Stock Vega.

Bonus Script Idea #9,017,244,592

Considering that in modern-day Hollywood, virtually everything can benefit from a remake, I’m finding time to finish a script idea that could go one of two ways:

1. ZAPRUDER! becomes a musical comedy, set in a just-off-Broadway theme, but as told from an independent filmmaker who is attempting to make the stage production of a play about another independent filmmaker who happens to capture an historic event on camera (only to later record over most of it with Gong Show reruns) into a feature film, but is doing so in guerrilla style, so as to avoid paying any of the actors, using the ruse of filming a “making of the documentary about the making of the play.” It’s all very Inception meets the Twilight Zone, but with the tone of an early episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Assuming that the show were produced in the universe of A Clockwork Orange.

2. Zapruder: Rise of the Third Gunman becomes a 3-hour, single tracking shot action epic with Michael Bay-style explosions, telling the story of the Kennedy assassination… I’m leaning toward this, as the sheer joy of having Bruce Willis wander off-set in the final moments of the perfect shot leaves me tingling with anxiety.

Failing those, we could simply head back to the toilet and drop back into a parody:

inglorious bathrooms

International Iceberg Lettuce Appreciation Day

Strangely coincidental, two-fer fact of the day:
 
While the Egyptians may have cultivated lettuce in its earliest form (and changing it from an oil-producing weed to a leafy food), and the preparation and serving techniques perfected by the Greeks and Romans, it was Columbus who brought it to America.
 
Strangely enough, what we now refer to as “Iceberg” lettuce was known as “Glasgow Butterleaf” until the horrifying events of April 15, 1912. Stranded for nearly three weeks in the icy, rough seas, and floating in rafts constructed using vintage car parts and draperies salvaged from the wreckage, the victims of the sinking RMS Titanic survived by eating the buoyant foods from the salad bar and burning the contents of a stowaway’s sketch books.
 
Had the trek been reversed, with the mighty ocean liner heading instead from New York to Southampton, the lettuce on board would have been the Americanized “Thick Head” variety, and would have fallen to the ocean floor like a brick. This would have meant makeshift boats loaded with cabbage-farting survivors floating in a sea of asparagus piss, possibly doubling the body count.
 
That said, raise high your Caesar dressing today, on International Iceberg Lettuce Appreciation Day, and sing a few bars of “My Heart Will Go On.”

A Visit to the Shrine of Stein

max wedge master

While the Max Wedge reached its pinnacle in 1964, when the Stage III version was released, the legacy lives on in the garage of Mr. Jerry Stein. One of the most respected of the Stock Eliminator racers, Jerry managed to not only have a career as a Physical Education teacher, but raise a family as well, all while besting the bigger-budget ‘other’ makes on the track. As a young man, I had looked up to what Jerry was achieving, and simply marveled at what ingenuity and creativity, coupled with a deep understanding of the mechanics involved could produce. In Jerry’s case, it was success after success on the strip, netting him NHRA records, and a very impressive collection of trophies and accolades.

I was honored with the opportunity to visit with Jerry as a stop on the Dart Road Trip, riding along with another of my automotive heroes, Mr. Steve Magnante! Never could I have imagined riding shotgun with a walking encyclopedia of all things Mopar, but to stop with him and visit Jerry Stein, and see, in person, not one, but two of the Teacher’s Pet cars! It made for a number of raised-pulse moments with every turn and glance around Jerry’s garage, and certainly etched that afternoon deep into my brain. Rather than clutter what was indeed a tremendously visual visit to the garage of Mr. Jerry Stein, I thought it best to approach this entry much the same way as I did:

In quiet reverence of the incredible history and collection of rare and just plain cool parts and pieces contained within. Enjoy.

max wedge 426

jerry stein
The man himself, revisiting some great memories.

lightweight max wedge car and parts
Just a peek at a small portion of Jerry’s collection of parts and pieces… not to mention two versions of the famous Teacher’s Pet.

more parts
max wedge crossram manifold
While some may offer their eye teeth for one, Jerry has some Max Wedge intakes stacked like fire wood in his garage.

timing cover 426 max wedge
lightweight max wedge hood
max wedge car
door lettering
lightweight fenders
max wedge lightweight aluminum fender

Aluminum front end pieces? Yeah, Jerry has those, as well. Consider what seeing these did to my inner 14 year-old: I had only read about these as a car-obsessed kid… and there I was on a sunny NJ day, staring down a pair of aluminum fenders, resting atop a Max Wedge car, in Jerry Stein’s garage. With Steve Magnante. Mind blown.

Consider just how cool this is… Aluminum pieces used for weight savings back then would have been considered exotic. My Challenger has an aluminum hood, and the weight-saving materials on the Dart Rallye we drove to Jerry’s place, along with the technology on board, would have seemed far beyond exotic in the days of the Max Wedge cars. Having both the Dart and the classic racing parts and cars in one police was a study in contrasts to be certain, yet, the logical progression from drag strip to fuel-efficient thinking  and design seems quite natural. Following this visit, my mind has been working over-time on some ideas to combine the power-hungry Max Wedge days with the modern day Dart, but more on that in a future blog. At that moment I saw the aluminum fenders in question, it was as though I had peered back through time on a number of levels.

As an aside: Growing up, I was (and remain to this day) a custom car fanatic. Taking the aluminum front end story a step or two beyond the lightweight racing purpose, consider how, just a year after the Max Wedge cars dominated, the mighty Hemi was to return. I mention this simply because of the unique tie it has to my custom car appreciation: In ’65, the first Hemi cars were slated to become Max Wedge cars, much like the pair you see here. These were switched to become Hemi cars, and a few were shipped to the famous customizers, the Alexander Brothers in Detroit, to be converted to altered-wheelbase cars (having the wheels moved forward in the chassis for better weight transfer). My mechanized adventure in Jersey continued to scramble my gray matter. I was standing in the presence of history, and inching closer and closer, in terms of degrees of separation, to realizing so many of the car-crazy dreams of my youth. I was beginning to fear that the goosebumps may never go away, and that was just fine by me.

max wedge aluminum hood scoop

This selection of photos scratches the surface of our visit to Jerry Stein’s incredible collection of racing parts and history, and I truly hope that you feel as though we were there together. It bordered on overwhelming at times, attempting to mentally catalog all that was contained in that garage, as well as listen to Jerry tell some great and entertaining tales, and Steve pointing out unique parts and supplying facts and figures which brought that history to life… This was certainly a day that I’ll never forget, and hopefully you’ve seen a few things here that you’ve always wanted to see, and will never forget as well.

max wedge lightweight aluminum
NOS max wedge parts
headlamp rings max wedge
mopar valve cover stash
440 race block

Family man meets racer:

class champion stickers
more championship decals
two max wedge lightweight cars

Where’s Wally? In Jerry’s dining room. Many times over.

wally trophy
more wally trophies
car craft championship

Peering over the shoulder of a giant:

jerry stein max wedge

Bonus points if you can name this nifty little piece and what makes it so darned nifty:

damper

The past and the present in some wonderful harmony under a clear New Jersey sky:

two darts

This selection of photos scratches the surface of our visit to Jerry Stein’s incredible collection of racing parts and history, and I truly hope that you feel as though we were there together. It bordered on overwhelming at times, attempting to mentally catalog all that was contained in that garage, as well as listen to Jerry tell some great and entertaining tales, and Steve pointing out unique parts and supplying facts and figures which brought that history to life… This was certainly a day that I’ll never forget, and hopefully you’ve seen a few things here that you’ve always wanted to see, and will never forget as well.

Adventures in Self-Employed ArtistLand

I’m implementing a technique that seems common when people phone the Studio. When grocery shopping, I’m going to inform the first person I come in contact with that another store has this or that at a lower price. This may prove awkward in restaurants, Dentist offices, etc, but it would appear to be a fairly common practice, and may work in my favor (it fails regularly in the Studio, FYI).

I’m also going to start dropping names of the shopping cart attendants, meat department managers and so-on that I know around town, and sprinkling in a celebrity now and then for added punch.

I’ll leave out the names, and slightly change the subject to protect the moronic, but here’s an example:

“I totally know the Crest Brothers. I was friends with them when they invented toothpaste.”

“Um… I think you’ll find that toothpaste dates back to at least the 4th century AD in Egypt.”

“I meant the stripey kind.”

“Yeah, that was Leonard Marrafino in like 1955.”

“Uh… that’s what I meant. We called him ‘Crest’ ‘Big Crest’ was the MAN.”

“You called him two people before you were born? Was he a conjoined twin toothpaste inventor? That’s really neat, and pretty bizarre. You’d think they’d have featured his toothbrush on Mysteries at the Museum or something. ‘This double-ended tooth cleaning implement was the personal grooming tool of history’s most celebrated two-in-one inventor. What secrets could it hold, and why is one side worn slightly more than the other?’ I’d watch the shit out of that.”

*click*

Yeah, it’s a fucking adventure here every day.

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