Friday, December 23, 2005

Things I do when I should be wrapping presents

Flathead V8, triple Stromberg 97 carbs, 300 reindeerpower on methanol.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy X-Mas (War is Over), or, There's Been A Lot Of Talk About This Next Meme, Maybe Too Much Talk

Those of you who have been paying attention and know where to look know we are at war. Not the guns and bombs kind (although there is no shortage of those of late) but the verbal kind. I speak, of course, of the much-vaunted (and little wanted) War on Christmas. We are told that there are people out there who are liable to take offense to the very word "Christmas." Of course, we are told this mainly by those who take offense to this supposed offense-taking itself--it's all very meta.

Now, X to the Mas falls on a Sunday this year, and it says in no less of an authority than the Bible that Sundays are sacred--one of the Ten Commandments reads "Yo, I got Sunday off, you guys should totally come party with me. It'll be cool. Kthxbye."--so there clearly needs to be room for Daddy, Junior and the Spook. But how do you tell the insidious secularized "Happy Seasonal Occasion" traditions from the genuine "Happy Birthday JC" ones? Here's a list to let you know:

  • Christmas trees. Not in the Bible, are they? Apparently this particular tradition was nicked from the German pagans in the early first millenium AD. They must not miss 'em, though, or they'd've spoke up, right?
  • X-Mas. See, that X there ain't algebraic for "unknown" (sorry, agnostics) but rather descends from the Greek letter "chi", a shorthand for Christ used by early, Roman-era Christians. You know, back when Christians actually were an oppressed minority somewhere people could locate on a map. (Sorry, Darfur.)
  • "Jingle Bells" and "Frosty the Snowman". No Jesus in there, no sir, so they gotta go. Jury's still out on the "Batman smells, Robin laid an egg" version, at least until we can determine whether the Batmobile lost its wheel due to a natural process, or whether there was some sort of Intelligent Designer involved.
  • "Happy Holidays". Okay, "holidays" comes from "holy days", so that's a big ol' fuck you to the atheists right there. There are a couple of Jewish holidays in December, admittedly, but they don't really seem all that happy, do they? I mean, the central message of most of 'em was "We weren't completely wiped out by that enslavement/war/genocide 8000 years ago, so quitcherbitchin." Cheery! And as for all the other religions, I'm assuming if they were to celebrate anything, the kind and inclusive folks behind the Kokanee calendar would have remembered 'em. (Does "Return Ranger vakume borrowed in August" count?) So this pretty much has to be Christian by default.
  • Santa Claus. Okay, on the one hand Saint Nicholas was a genuine religious figure, patron saint of prisoners, pawnbrokers and prostitutes. (Which makes Tom Waits' "Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis" wierdly sorta religious.) And, to be fair, he's patron saint of children, too, but that doesn't alliterate so well. But on the other hand, he keeps some pretty shady company. Shady as in, if you fall on the wrong side of the naughty/nice dichotomy, you could get kidnapped or even eaten. Fun! And is it really good religious training to get the wee bairns used to the idea of an old man with a beard who enforces codes of behaviour and has supernatural powers, but later turns out to not exist at all? Yer outta here, Kringle!
  • At least gift giving's in. You might wanna keep it to gold, frankincense and myrrh, though.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hot Rodding as performance art

Okay, this is genuinely wierd:

In her BODYWORK project, Liz Cohen is converting Färgfabriken’s main hall into a car body shop and a gym. Every day, she will be working to transform an old East German Trabant into an American Chevrolet El Camino. East German functionalism goes American low-rider. In addition, the artist will be training her body so that she will also be able to present the finished car as a showroom bikini model.

Read more at We Make Money Not Art.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Once again back is the incredible, the rhyme animal

The Arthurs of Rock assault continues on Bedazzled. Today it's Arthur Lee & Love wailing through My Little Red Book. Skip the kinda weak Byrdsy ballad at the beginning if you wanna--"Little Red Book" is a pure, stompin' two chord psych-punk fireball, kids. This is the schtuff.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Art of rock n' roll

I'm pretty sure I've never linked Bedazzled's awe-inspiring collection of videos here before, but they've been on a hell of a tear lately with Ye Olde Sixties Garage Punke.[*] Fuzztones a-go-go, hot girls in miniskirts doing goofy dances, stompin' barre chord riffs and fake Beatles harmonies--what more could you want? I recommend you start with Tobacco Road by the Nashville Teens (who weren't from Nashville at all)--not only for the way the rollicking mid-tempo verses give way to beatless, harmony-filled choruses and then to boogie woogie bridges Pinetop Perkins himself woulda dug, but because their lead singer goes by the name of Arthur Sharp. Arthurs of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but our chains!

[*] And '70s soul, and novelty hits, and vintage commercials, and whatever the hell you wanna call Serge Gainsbourg...

Oh yeah, I picked up a Wacom tablet the other day, so I oughtta be able to give this place a little graphical pizazz at long last. Make like a pitchfork and stay tuned.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Vintage speed gadget o' the day

Meet the Turboniques drag axle. The concept is simple--hook a jet engine straight up to your car's rear diff, fire 'er up and hold on. They claim the slowest conversion they've got runs 8 second quarter-miles on turbine power alone. Wonder whatever happened to 'em?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

STOP! Godwin time!

Okay, Google, I understand the whole automated ad serving thing. And that keyword-to-webpage matches for Google AdWords can sometimes generate unintentional irony. But are you seriously trying to tell me nobody though this was in the slightest bad taste?

I mean, dude, I've seen footage of concentration camp rescuees, and "Sexy Jewish singles" ain't exactly the phrase that springs to mind.

(Actual Google ad from The Unofficial Borat Homepage. For those of you who don't know, Borat is a controversial fake Kazakhstani journalist character created by
British comic Sascha Baron Cohen to, among other things, bring out the hidden anti-Semite in his interview victims--in one memorable sketch, getting a bar full of Alabamans to sing the "traditional" folk song, "Throw The Jew Down The Well"--so the irony here's got more layers than a Dagwood sandwich.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

It came from the boot-shaped peninsula!

I dunno what it was about Italy in the '50s and '60s--something in the water? Some sorta lysergic Dali-worship thingy? Some subliminal vein of national design wierdness that couldn't find its expression in Pininfarina's car designs or Armani's suits? Whatever it was, they had some seriously trippy shiznit going on with guitar design back then. Fetish Guitars has the skinny. Hope ya read Italian, 'cause I'm pretty sure they ain't revealing nothin' to us Anglos. (Pictured: Roots rock genius and Emmylou Harris sideman Buddy Miller with his prize Wandre axe.) [via musicthing]

R.I.P, Link Wray

If there's one thing that's been a constant during the past hundred years of recorded music, it's the one-hit wonder. Fads come and go, and bands and singers fit in with the fickle public taste for one glorious summer, or more memorably, create that one novelty hit that crosses the line from ubiquitous to annoying. And usually, other than getting the odd karaoke patron to stumble their way through "99 Luftballons", or having a wedding DJ drop the "Macarena" or "Bird Dance" so the five- and eighty-five year olds can get their groove on, that's all there is to it.

Sometimes, though, a song comes along that, even though the artist responsible doesn't get to enjoy any measure of lasting success, the song itself is enough to resonate through rock and roll culture as something greater than itself. Think "Louie Louie"--Richard Berry had a minor R&B hit with it, but when it mutated into a garage rock standard in Seattle, and eventually the Kingsmen recorded it as a wild three-chord stompin' ball of energy that spoke not of the lonely sailor's lament that the lyrics portray, but a molten stream of teenage lust and aggression, it became the father of everything from "Wild Thing" to "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Where'd they get that guitar sound, though? The guitar was once the gently strummed instrument of the troubadour, after all. Fingering a chord that's nothing more than root, fifth and octave, and punching it out in measured, percussive fury--a man named Link Wray invented that shit. Back in '58, he came out with a jam called "Rumble", based around nothing more than a two-chord riff moved around the blues progression, a spare, stomping drumbeat and the odd switchblade flick of pentatonic riffage for a turnaround. It hit Top 20 in the US even though it was widely banned, its gang-inspired title and air of slow, rumbling menace enough to frighten the powers that be in the Ike era.

For that, his style will be immortal. Sadly, the man himself ain't.

Link Wray, 1929-2005. Rest in Peace.

Friday, November 18, 2005

How fickle & fleeting is fame

It's the classic "Behind the Music". One minute you're young, famous, and beautiful, winning popularity contests and starring in reality TV. The next minute, you're being flogged on eBay for less than you ought to be worth, and what's worse, nobody's even bidding.

Seriously, wealthy bike nuts of America, whiskey tango foxtrot? Sure, I ain't got that kinda dough-re-mi, but for a bike as sweet-looking and well-crafted as anything by Hank Young, let alone a Biker Buildoff winner like the Lakewood Special, forty large ain't unreasonable, is it? Where's Jay Leno when you need 'im?

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Just like Eddie Grant, only faster

Following up on yesterday's eco-hotrod post, here's a few more rides for those who rock down to Electric Avenue and then take it higher:

Monday, November 7, 2005

Like Hank Hill, only much faster

We (well, okay, I) hold these truths to be self-evident:

1. That hot rods are super bitchin'. Especially Ford-powered Model A's on Deuce rails.

2. That one day, if we keep suckin' back the gasolina like we were John Belushi in Animal House and it was Schlitz, one day we're gonna have a problem of some kind. Global warming, gas crises, billionaire Saudi terrorists, take yer pick.

Fortunately I'm not the only one who's noticed this dilemma. Behold, if you will, Wayne Greenwood's (under construction) '31 roadster on '32 rails, powered by a propane-fueled 289 Ford. Now, getting a big American V8 to burn C3H8 ain't a new trick by any means--taxis around these parts run propane as a rule, and they're mostly late-model Caprices, Impalas and Crown Vics--but propane has a reputation of being a poor choice, horsepower-wise. Greenwood figures it ain't necessarily so, though. In theory, propane should tolerate a much higher compression ratio than pump gas, and mix more easily with air, meaning power levels ought to be comparable to a gasoline engine if you build it right. Throw in the lower price and emissions from propane, and--ding ding ding! we have a winner!

And if that's not clean enough, or fast enough for you, James Heffel of the University of California, Riverside, has an even more impressive project--a 427 Cobra[*] that should make 400hp on hydrogen. The intent isn't just to look cool or anything, either, but to blow away the land speed record for hydrogen vehicles. So far it's run 135mph at El Mirage, but with gasoline power to test the chassis. If they've done a record run with hydrogen power, I haven't seen results, but I'd sure like to.

[*] Shelby CSX4000, to be exact, but if it's good enough for the Shelby American Auto Club, it's good enough for me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Filters and VCOs and resonance, oh my!

Sonic Reclamation Industries has a fantastic compilation called Moog Break Beats up for free download right now. Funky fresh retro-futuristic psych-outs from the era of Day-Glo and shag carpets, featuring of course the future of musical expression, Mr. Robert Moog's ingenious "synthesizer".

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trip the Blight Fantastic

Check this out--some guy built a super-detailed, urban decay-filled Bronx model railway. How detailed? Well, you just about expect to see a buncha inch-high mobsters saying "Fuhgeddaboudit" running between all those tiny, graffiti-covered brownstones. I lack the kind of uber-focused nerdiness necessary to pull this off--as well as, let's face it, basically zero interest in model trains--but if I did, I'd love to see somebody do up Liberty City like this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Positronic Ape Index

I want to take you all on a trip, back through the mists of time, into an era almost unknown to the memory of man. It was a time they called the early 2000's, and monkeys reigned supreme. Poo was flung, fruit was consumed, and as the poet would have it, the shit was bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

But it was not paradise for long, for challengers to the throne came in their memetic hordes. Pirates first, then zombies (held up only by Dolores O'Riordan's asking them what's in their heads), and next--who knows? Bunnies? Ninjas? Creationist-mocking Italian entrees? Turmoil reigns now upon the land.

But our simian friends have not given up yet. No--they can rebuild themselves, make themselves stronger. They have the technology. Gentlemen, I give you the future:

The Realistic Lifelike Animatronic Chimpanzee.

There's a George Bush joke in there somewhere too, but I'm not gonna make it. The poor lil' guy just tries so hard--it's like he thinks he's people!

Everybody dance the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Would you trust a company that insists on installing spyware disguised as a computer game with your credit card details?

A company like, say, Visa?

The Afghan Whigs, hold the whigs.

Rick Mercer (yeah, that Rick Mercer) has a great post up right now about his visit to Afghanistan, giving Guy LaFleur a wake-up call and why he shouldn't go into combat zones without his wardrobe department.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

It came from... well, Australia actually

Every time I think I'm over the whole neo-retro trend in new car styling, somebody goes and does something like this. The Holden EFIJY is an updated take on '30s Holdens and early '50s Barris brothers kustoms, with a touch of Harry Westergard style in the rear. Looks fast standing still, and that's all that matters, right?

[via the H.A.M.B.]

Monday, October 10, 2005

It's safety time!

Picture this: Ten kids on bikes. Wearing ape masks. Dying one by one because they don't use HAND SIGNALS. None of the survivors notices. Oh, and when the last one finally gets to the park, he sees the Statue of Liberty, and finds out--it was EARTH ALL ALONG!

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

The war on error

Australian fake news show CNNNN does their version of the old This Hour Has 22 Minutes "Talking To Americans" bit (which, to be fair, they nicked from Jay "Allegedly Funny Once" Leno)

The subject? The next target for the War on Terror. [via screenhead]

Monday, October 3, 2005

In case of emergency, forget Bruce Willis

Scientists now believe that a 400 meter wide asteroid has a 1-in-60 chance of hitting Earth. For our non-metric readers, that's approximately a quarter mile. For your own safety, it may be necessary to travel that kind of distance from a standing start in ten seconds or less, so there's never been a better time to build a Gasser or Fuel Altered. It's either that, or stand around singing "Leaving On A Jet Plane." I know which one I'd choose.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Found this on the Jockey Journal forums: Home Made Honda's low buck transformation of a '70s CB750 into a '50s style bobber. I love that style of bike, and it's pretty bitchin' seeing a homemade one built from low buck Jap technology. (The guy didn't give budget info or anything, but I bet you could build two or three of those for the price of a Harley-style crate motor, let alone the insane megabux a pro-built chopper goes for.) Not 100% sure I dig how wide the four cylinder Honda engine looks, but it does look kinda hot rod-y all sitting out in the wind and dominating the look. Maybe one of these days I'll build one myself, but I might prefer a Yamaha Virago or something as donor bike--V-twin motor, neat lookin' no downtube frame and there's enough of 'em still around parts availability shouldn't be too much of a hassle. Just daydreamin' here, but you gotta dream big, right?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Puttin' the "little" in "Little Deuce Coupe"

...and taking out the "Deuce Coupe" and replacing it with "Model A Tudor." Check out this bitchin' half scale hot rod on Ebay. 100% handmade metal body, Chevy V6 running gear, pure awesomeness. I'm in awe of the kind of skill and dedication it takes to handcraft an entire car body like this, even in half-scale. The red pickup isn't for sale, but I think I like it even better.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Yet another of the many reasons Meat Loaf was wrong

Seriously, think about it. "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad?" Consider the following:

  • Sanford, Son & Holy Ghost
  • The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, Ernest Goes to Mordor
  • Lights! Camera! Ennui!
  • The Two Wise Men and Some Schlub They Picked Up Hitchhiking
  • Larry, Moe and Chomsky[*]
Also, I can comfortably speak from experience when I say two out of three pieces of a three-piece cotter-type bicycle crank ain't, in fact, good. Fortunately, good ol' Sheldon makes the repair procedure sound almost fun:
Try to picture your hammer coming down into the cotter and going right through, breaking off the end of the spindle in the process. It won't, but this fantasy may help you to use the strength of your arm fully. By the way, you don't need particularly strong arms to hammer out a cotter. Many civilized people have trouble releasing the full amount of energy in a hammer blow that they are physically capable of; to do it right calls for deadly accuracy and a certain amount of barbaric abandon.
[*] Sample script:

Larry: Oh, a wise guy... whyioughtta...

Chomsky: It may prove illuminating to study the semiotics of the capital-content relationship in late hypercapitalist media, vis. CNN, Fox, etc., in light of Derrida's reappraisal of--

Moe: (slaps Chomsky, Larry) Nyuknyuknyuk!

Chomsky: Neo-imperialist!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Go fast, earn karma

So there's this show on the Speed channel called "Pinks", in which two guys drag race and the winner gets to keep both cars. (Or at least that's the idea--the episodes I've seen seem to feature more rules arguments than actual racing, but that's beside the point.) Anyway, a bunch of VW drag racers from the Cal-Look Forums came up with a brilliant plan: Build a racecar out of donated parts, race on "Pinks", and if they win, auction both cars and donate the proceeds to Hurricane Katrina relief. Sounds like something to keep my eyes on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Everything they do is funky like Lee Dorsey

Check out Aurgasm's history of New Orleans music, complete with mp3s. If I have to tell you why, you probably won't understand anyway.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Movin' on up to the east side

I got my first comment spam today. I made it, ma! Top of the world!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Remember... is not the time for finger-pointing. Now is not the time to play the blame game. Now is the time to play Katrina: The Gathering. [via mefi]

Monday, September 12, 2005

Is it time to play the blame game yet?

Newsweek on how Bush fscked up the Katrina rescue effort. There have been reports before about how the Bush White House's philosophy is "We create our own reality"--that's the sort of new age bullshit that only stoned hippie burnouts and infomercial-hypnotized Tony Robbins groupies ought to believe. So how did it become the dominant mindstate of the Leader of the Free World?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Kustom Kar history

Vintage magazine photos of Duane Steck's legendary '54 Chevy custom, Moonglow.

Found on The H.A.M.B.

So long, Gatemouth

"Goodbye I hate to leave you now, goodbye
I pray that I return to you someday
You pray that it shall be just that way
So long for now."
-- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, 1924-2005. Rest in peace.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Well I stand right next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand

One thought that's been at the back of my mind throughout the whole Gulf Coast hurricane crisis is how far above its weight New Orleans punches, culturally speaking. Ninety percent of the music I love wouldn't exist without the Crescent City. Michael Ventura's essay, "Hear That Long Snake Moan", takes the long way 'round to explaining why, passing through African spiritual traditions, Haitian voodoo, the regrettable history of slavery (American and otherwise) and the etymologies of "funky", "jazz" and "rock n' roll" on the way. Well worth the read.

[via mefi]

Friday, September 9, 2005

What time is it? Hot rod time!

Some hot rod/kustom-related pics for you to drool over:

The Calgary-based, North of 49 Racing's Bonneville Speed Week pics

The Kreepers' (of Edmonton) Hot Rod Rumble

I've been trying to throw some paint on the chopper bike the last couple days. Got as far as 1-1/2 coats of the semi-gloss black, noticed it had more runs than Hank Aaron and worse yet, the last little bit was starting to crackle. If the rain ever lets up *grumble*, I'm gonna have to sand it smooth and shoot some more. Pretty much sucks, I was hoping to get it the base coat done at least by today and hopefully get the chance to pinstripe it. Now it's gonna have to wait.

Funny, though, I've felt a little odd about the fat-ish 26*1.95 tire on the front. Looking at the 2006 model Schwinn Stingrays, though, it appears the factory custom gods have declared fat front tires are the new black. Or the new monkeys, or zombies, or whatever the standard is these days. Don't ask me, I realised I'd burned my hipster card when I bought a CD at Safeway.

(C'mon, don't look at me like that, it was Ike and Tina Turner.)

Thursday, September 8, 2005


The Ashcroft Flyer is a modernised take on the '50s bobber style motorcycle, built to be a canvas for Mitch Kim's unreal pinstriping skills. Usually bobbers are a low-buck, simple and fast proposition. This one has loads of one-off billet parts that are only low buck if you own a CNC rig, but the whole thing was designed to look like something outta the '50s, as opposed to a modern, ultra-stretched high-dollar billet barge.

It's the pinstriping I'm digging, though. Check out how well that design on the tank flows--it's as intricate as you please, but all the negative space enhances the fancy bits. Bloody stunning. [via pinstriperspage]

"The water's all up 'round my windows, backin' up in my door.
I've got to leave my home. Said, I can't stay here no more.

The want me to work on the levee, they're coming to take me down.
I'm scared the levee may break, ah...and I might drown.

The police run me out from Cairo, all through Arkansas.
And they threw in jail, behind these cold iron bars."
Lonnie Johnson, "Broken Levee Blues"

"Niggers starvin' and dyin' of thirst
But he had to check on them refineries first
Makin' a killin off the price of gas
He woulda been up in Connecticut twice as fast
After all that we been through nothin's changed
You can call the Red Cross but the fact remains
George Bush ain't a gold digger
But he ain't fuckin' with no broke niggers"
-- The Legendary K.O., "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People"

I dunno how much French the average Louisiana dude actually knows, but I bet they understand the hell outta "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Stuck inside of New Orleans with the hurricane blues again

Via Making Light, two hurricane survivor stories that come off as a microcosm of all that is purely, hideously fucked in American society. First, Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, two paramedics visiting New Orleans for a conference:

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

And secondly, Charmaine Neville, musician, New Orleans resident and hero. (video interview)

It's stories like this that have me wondering how much of the hurricane relief fuckup is the result of mere widespread organizational failure, and how much is actually deliberate malice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Bike update

Been a while since I've updated the status on my chopper bike, so I thought I'd give it a rundown.

  • Bought some baby apehangers and a bullet-style headlight. The light's sitting a little higher than I wanted it, but I think it still looks good. I've gotta finish installing the new brake levers, then I can throw on the red metalflake grips I bought, too
  • Tore it down for paint today. Is there some kind of law that the paint (or in this case primer) you've got is only gonna do 90% of the job? Anyway, I'm off to Home Depot tomorrow for more. I figure the full-price Rustoleum probably contains more per can than their cheaper Painter's Touch line, so that's what I'm gonna try. Need to grab more flat black, too.
  • Also, a quick hit from the Well of Unintended Learning: When taking apart some small assembly to see how it's held together--say, a cheapo Chinese shifter--organize it as you go so you know how it goes back together. Or, you know, learn it the hard way. Again and again.

Monday, September 5, 2005

You are like a hurricane, there's calm in your eyes

If, like I am, you've overdosed on shrill blog-politics from left and right alike, and can no longer be bothered which level of the US government to be furious at for the scope of the disaster, it might be helpful to gain a little human perspective on the event. Michael Homan, a teacher at Xavier University, has a story to tell.

But these guys said that had changed, and so I put my computer and a few papers in my backpack, loaded the dogs, let the birds go, and put Oot the sugar glider with food and water in Kalypso's room to await my return, much like Napoleon leaving for Elba I suppose. We drove in the boat all over the city looking for people. It was so surreal with the helicopters and all the boats up and down Canal Street amidst all the devastation. Towards dusk on Friday I arrived at I-10 and Banks Street, not far from my house. There they packed all of us pet owners from Mid City into a cargo truck and drove us away. They promised they would take us to Baton Rouge, and from there it would be relatively easy for me to get a cab or bus and meet the family in Jackson.

But then everything went to hell. They instead locked up the truck and drove us to the refugee camp on I-10 and Causeway and dropped us off. Many refused to get out of the van but they were forced. The van drove away as quickly as it could, as the drivers appeared to be terrified, and we were suddenly in the middle of 20,000 people. I would estimate that 98% of them were African Americans and the most impoverished people in the state. It was like something out of a Kafka novel.

Gripping stuff. And there's more on this MeFi thread.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

There are no words... explain this level of stupidity:

On tonight's news, CTV (Canadian TV) said that support was offered from Canada. Planes are ready to load with food and medical supplies and a system called "DART" which can provide fresh water and medical supplies is standing by. Department of Homeland Security as well as other U.S. agencies were contacted by the Canadian government requesting permission to provide help. Despite this contact, Canada has not been allowed to fly supplies and personnel to the areas hit by Katrina. [emphasis mine] So, everything here is grounded. Prime Minister Paul Martin is reportedly trying to speak to President Bush tonight or tomorrow to ask him why the U.S. federal government will not allow aid from Canada into Louisiana and Mississippi. That said, the Canadian Red Cross is reportedly allowed into the area.

What. The. Fuck. America? You're seriously telling me that Indonesia, a veritable basket case of a country troubled by internal terrorism and the aftereffects of Jean Chretien's good buddy Suharto, can get its shit together to accept international assistance when it's needed, but the USA can't? There are people starving in New Orleans and Biloxi, huddled in whatever buildings they can find above the waterline, and if somebody or some agency wants to help them, the question oughtta be are they willing and able--NOT what flag they fly.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It Came From Before I Was Actually Born

AOHell's got the new Dylan CD set in one of those streaming Flash thingies. CD1 is the folky acoustic stuff, CD2 is outtakes from Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited, and lemme tell ya, there are scads of artists out there who'd kill to be able to throw away records this good[*], even if a lot of the changes made to the official versions of these songs improved him. If only their player had better support for track names, etc.

Anyway, I had "Down In The Flood" running through my head earlier today, it seemed apropriate given the New Orleans disaster. Even though "Down In The Flood" is pretty much a bitch-done-me-wrong song and the flood's pretty much metaphorical:

There's rain on the levee, the water's gonna grow
Water will rise and no boat's gonna row

Well it's sugar for sugar
And it's salt for salt
If you go down in the flood it's gonna be your fault
But oh, mama, you gonna miss your best friend now
You gonna have to find yourself another best friend somehow

[*] Except "Desolation Row", that version's amazingly even more of a drag than the official version.

Where am I going with this? Well, unless you're down in the Delta with a boat and a mess of extra food, there's probably fuck all you can do for N'Awlins. Except, that is, for donate to the Red Cross.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Finally got the seat buttoned down all nice on Molly Hatchet. Took 'er out for a beer run/shakedown cruise, now to ride to work tomorrow and see what breaks.

Still, it's a wicked feeling--wind in the hair, speed beautiful speed. Oh, and in the space of a five minute ride, one and a half compliments--some 12 year old kid going "Cool bike!" as I rode by, and the liquor store dude asking me where I buy parts from.

Still to do: Sort out some better tires--I dunno if anybody makes fat tires to fit 26*1-3/8 rims like I've got on the back, there's a 26*1.5 that oughtta fit the front. Paint--still wanna go suede black with pinstripes. Oh yeah, and a backrest.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Timed over a measured mile

Don's Hot Rod Page has a whack of photos up from Bonneville Speed Week '05. I'm digging the stance on that Model A pickup--something about the unchopped roof with the serious front end drop, slight channel and Z'd rear frame just looks right somehow... The blown flattie up front doesn't exactly hurt either.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Your tax dollars at work

Mark this one down on the calendar--the feds actually came up with a good idea for once! The Off Ramp program is designed to teach Vancouver schoolkids the benefits of human powered transportation by, among other things, teaching 'em to build chopper bikes. Yeah.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

So apparently, back in the Great Depression, this was the hot setup for rural mailmen to ensure neither rain nor sleet nor a row of clapped-out '81 Caprices would delay them from their appointed rounds: a '28-'29 Model A Tudor on a truck chassis with tractor tires.

(By the way, the photo was taken in 1940--around the time of the first Jeeps, 35 years before Bigfoot. First monster truck, my ass.) [via the H.A.M.B.]

Monday, August 22, 2005

The great space age bachelor pad in the sky

God is a Moog.

Moog is with God. Bob Moog, synth pioneer and inventor, 1934-2005. Rest in peace.

Friday, August 19, 2005

This is not your old man's Prius.

Let's see, here:

300hp -- Check.
Looks like a baby Lambo -- Check.
Zero to sixty in under four seconds -- Check.
50mpg VW hybrid turbodiesel drivetrain -- Check.
Built by high school (and university) kids? Yeah! If they'd had something like this in my school, I might have actually taken shop class...
[via mefi]

Friday, August 12, 2005

What would Billy Kropotkin do?

Just so you know, Dr. Atomic, the A-Bomb themed opera, apparently has nothing to do with Dr. Atomic, the '70s underground comic, Dr. Atomic's World Famous Medicine Show, Doc Atomic the Chicago-based outsider artist, or Dr. Atomic's politically-charged psychedelic electronica. (Or for that matter, my old buddy Doc Atomic who needs to get himself a web page so's I can link him. C'mon dude, it's the 21st century already...)

Monday, August 8, 2005

More Das Volks pics

I figured there were enough folks with digicams at the show, some better pics than mine would turn up. Sure enough, Neil Dorin's got over 300 of 'em. I don't know if he managed to shoot every single car there, but there's gobs of detail shots, great representation of all classes including the water pumpers, and shots of the winners and non-car activities. Basically, all the stuff I missed, he didn't. Check 'em out.

The Heroin Club for Men: I like it so much, I bought the company!

(CBS 5) It was the ultimate bad hair day for a would-be drug smuggler.

Investigators say a bad toupe tipped them off to more than $100,000 worth of heroin hidden underneath -- superglued to the man's head.

[via boing boing]

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Das Volks '05

Das Volks '05

More pics from Das Volks on my Flickr account.

Also, in Volkswagen-related news, here's an interview with Australian avante-garde music dude Lucas Avela. I say "music dude" rather than "musician" because not only does he record as A Kombi, he considers his former Kombi--VW van to non-German/Australians--to be the actual musician. Hell, just read it, I can't explain it better than he can. (Warning, photo of naked men and passionate defense of Yoko Ono's artistic integrity, click with care.) [Lucas Avela interview via mefi]

Saturday, August 6, 2005

The tortoise and the chopper

Very, very little progress to report on the bike. Well, that's not strictly true, it's more of a "one step forward, two steps back" type thing. I got as far as throwing a coat of flat black on the seat frame, mounting the crossbars & springs on it and setting it down on the cargo rack before I realised that it was far enough away from straight that it stood no chance of ever looking right. So, onto the scrap pile it went. Lucky I've got lotsa conduit, because I just reached into the pile and bent up another one. The trick is, y'see, to grab a flexible, sewing-type tape measure, start in the center and measure out the centerpoints of each bend, then line 'em up with the mark on the bending dye. Also, a beer bottle makes a great block to elevate one side to nail an angle. Should look ace when I get it mounted properly, but I need some longer bolts, I need to remake the crossbars as the seat frame is a little wider at the back, make some lower mounts, hook 'er up and ride it like I stole it. Should be a good day's work, but it's not gonna get done tommorrow, as I want to try to get to Das Volks.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

We hate the computers, the computers that go BOOOOOM

Or hell, even SHHTPPPTHthtppppp.

Because that, my friends, is as far as I can tell the sound of an Antec Solution Series 300W power supply deciding that the supplying of power is no longer something it deigns to do. It's the power supply equivalent of "O cruel world, how I long to leave thy suffering for the sweet embrace of the grave. Oh, and I want to take the rest of this computer with me. That OK?"

Now, thankfully I'm the tiniest bit of a packrat, so I'm not completely PC-less. I am, however, writing this running KNOPPIX on a circa-1997 machine with no functioning hard disks. Any older, and I'd be mailing this into Blogger scratched on the back of a clay tablet. I mean, I don't ask for much--well, okay, I do--but howzabout a computer on which all the parts work, and which was born in this century? I almost offered a dude on the street in a wheelchair cash on the spot for the lame-lookin' lime green clamshell iBook he was carrying, just so's I could have something t'get my Interweb fix on. Then I realised it probably wouldn't run OSX and do I really wanna get to know the previous epoch of MacOS all that well?

Anyway, I'm making progress on the chopper bike. Still no pics--among other things, this ancient box ain't got no USB--but I've got the kustom seat frame bent into shape, most of the holes drilled to mount the crossbars & seat springs, and the seat wearing a drippy-but-I'm-gonna-sand-it coat of gray primer. Next step, more drilling, some rattlecan flat black, mount it and HELLO! WHEELIE MACHINE!

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Another groovy mystery

Finally, somebody owned up to putting the "bomp" in the "bomp-a-lomp-a-lomp". Find out from WFMU's Answer Song roundup. (Where's "Sweet Home Alabama", though?)

Rain, rain, go away

I'd really like to finish the seat frame/mount/sissy bar for the bike today. Unfortunately for me, Mother Nature has other plans. I mean, even I'm not dumb enough to go dragging a bunch of 10 foot metal rods around in a thunderstorm...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Walk softly and carry a big tube

(alternately: 'Cause nobody conduit like Mixmaster conduit, or A man might casually refer to his "tube" or his "johnson"...)

The chopper build's been going a little slower the last coupla days. Maybe it's a simple matter of the progress being less visually apparent--you can easily see the difference between a stock fork and one with an extra six inches or so extension, but good luck seeing the difference between Taylor brakes (Chuck Taylor, that is) and actual functional squeeze-the-handle-and-the-wheel-stops brakes. It's still been an educational couple of days, though.

Yesterday's goal was to bend up a seat frame/sissy bar and possibly a bottom support for the seat. (The bike's cargo rack might work, but I don't have 100% faith in it, even though it seems beefy.) Things I learned: Ten feet of 1/2" conduit sounds like plenty. It ain't. Ten feet of 1/2" conduit sounds like a pain in the ass to carry home while walking a bike. It is. (The walk home is a perfect opportunity to think of all those things you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, though. Plus, snappy answer to an unasked question: "Watcha doin' with the big pole?" "Preparing to defend my knightly honour upon the jousting ground. Seekest thou to test me?")

Bending conduit with a bender sounds hard. It ain't. Planning your bends so you wind up with a clean-looking piece that uses bends in multiple planes, most of which aren't quite 90 degrees, straight horizontal or vertical sounds easy. Duh, it ain't. Thus the reason I have a kinked and likely worthless piece of twisted metal in the vague shape of what I want lying in the junkpile. (Sigh...)

So anyway, when I score some more conduit, I'm gonna start with the 180 bend in the middle for the sissy bar piece, go slowly and carefully and check symmetry and the like often. After which, I'm gonna bolt a bent serving platter from the loonie store as a seat, with the springs from the stock seat to give it some bounce. Hopefully it'll be a good compromise between comfort and style, and 100% homemade kustom.

In the "actual rideability" category though, I've got the handlebars on straight and the brakes working at last. Swapped out the pedals, too, thinking one of them was bent, but it must be the crank.

Also, I think I'm approaching the limits of the "drill it and bolt it" fabrication technique. Anybody out there in radioland wanna buy me a welder?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Molly Hatchet buildup, days 1 & 2: Jesse James I ain't

So I've been obsessed the last litle while with building a gazelle-fork bicycle chopper. Yesterday I decided, what the hell, I'm gonna go for it.

So I decided on a name, first of all. (This probably isn't the way Real Hot Rodders do it, but so what.) I'm callin' 'er Molly Hatchet. You know, as in "Flirtin' With Disaster."

Firstly: Damn, running around to thrift stores buying donor bikes is time consuming. Yeesh. Hours later, though, I wound up with two of 'em: A smallish ladies' Unidal cruiser as the main donor (Made in Canada!) and a men's Raleigh mountain bike for the extra forks and random additional parts.

Getting the forks apart was tedious but simple. Hammering 'em together--well, when is hitting stuff with a big, bounce-resistant "El Kabong!" rubber mallet not fun? Unfortunately, that's where it stopped being easy.

I dunno if my drill is lacking in cojones, battery power or if I'm just lacking in patience, but God Damn does drilling boltholes to bolt the fork legs back together take for-effin-ever. I still haven't drilled the final 3/8" holes to fit the heavy-duty Grade 5 bolts I bought for it, as my drill gives up at the mere thought of opening a chasm that vast. (Torque Torque, the beast needs more torque...) Just as well though, as after bolting 'em together with el cheapo loonie store bolts, putting the front wheel on and taking 'er for a test ride, I decided the fork legs weren't aligned quite right. (El Kabong!) The rubber BFH wacked 'em into place all right, but the bolt holes aren't quite perfectly aligned anymore...

Also, it took way more hassle than should have been necessary, but I've jury-rigged a brake system. V-brakes from the mountain bike in the front (memo to self: if the return spring appears bent, don't bother trying to fix it, it's not gonna happen), centrepull types in the back. Not exactly the kinda high-performance stopping system a modern bike comes with, but it works eventually.

To do still: Seat--I tried sitting on the back fender cargo rack, and once you get used to it, it feels so cool. Low and back is definitely the way to go. "Hood Ornament"--I bought a "Winged Victory" trophy from Value Village, and intend to mount it on top of my handlebars or something. (Sorry, W.P. Wagner 1985-86 Girls' Intramural Badminton winner.) Paint--flat black rat rod stylee, and like you even need to ask if I'm gonna pinstripe it. Oh, and I wanna hit some of the parts with CLR to try and nuke the surface rust--I wonder if you can mask it? I love the idea of rust flames on the fenders...

Pics probably tommorrow or something.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Chopper madness

The Chopper Handbook offers not only a treasure trove of tech info on transforming a pile of tubing into a fire-breathing two wheeled menace to society, but better yet, has a heap of scans from Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's late 60's Chopper Magazine. Including, best of all, a super-rare meeting-of-the-minds interview with pioneering hot rod pinstriper Von Dutch. Vintage cool don't come much better than this, folks. (Now if only they'll scan that chopper bicycle article from December '68...)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Don't try to lay no boogie-woogie on the King of Rock N' Roll

You weren't alive when I started to jive, so don't lay none on me
You didn't arrive to make '45 but you had some '53
You got what it takes to get the heads a-spinnin' down by the old rib shack
And you come on just like a fool grinnin' in the back of a red Cadillac
You can't get across the astral bridge
Until you pay the toll
So don't try to lay no boogie-woogie on the King of Rock and Roll."

Long John Baldry, 1941-2005. Rest in peace.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I've been listening to my inner hippie. As opposed to the outer ones.

I don't know if this is a specific sub-clause of Murphy's Law, or just covered by the general concept, but if, supposedly, one were to fail to tighten the bolts on one's bitchen-lookin', torpedo-shaped bike headlight and if said hypothetical headlight were to work itself even looser from the vibration of riding, said headlight would, again hypothetically, choose the exact center of the steepest, bumpiest piece of bike path in the city to depart its fendery perch for places unknown.

Also, again hypothetically, the alarming rattling of said illumination device would fail to be either loud enough, or mellifluous enough, for any hippie pedestrians one might pass at such speeds as one might attain. Should such an event come to pass, words might be exchanged that would make said hippie seem 93% as passive-aggressive as a PMS-ing Stepford Wife. Words like, oh I dunno, "HEY! You know what's cool, is the dinging of the bells when a bike passes you! The dinging of the bells!!" I may have to give in on this point sometime as the law kinda requires it, but rest assured, dear reader, the ol' El Rattletrap Special is custom-engineered with the finest thrift store technology to already make enough noise to be noticed automatically. All mod cons, we got 'em.

In any event, here's my impressions of the first day of Folk Fest:

  • Buck 65

  • I've been a fan of Hali's weirdest hip-hop export for a few years now, so I was looking forward to seeing him live at last. And I've gotta say, I was the tiniest smidge disappointed. It's hard to actually find any specific fault, mind you--his words entranced, his delivery was the right combination of world-weary and energetic, and though the odd pseudo-Tom Waits-ism about circus freaks in Dusseldorf or whatever felt a little bit like conscious window dressing, his enthusiasm for his genre-stretching and -abandoning experiments seems pretty genuine. (For instance, he ended his set with a live mashup of his own "Wicked and Wierd" over Clarence "Tom" Ashley's "Coo Coo Bird") Still, it seemed he wasn't connecting with a big hunk o' the crowd.

    Maybe they were expecting a live band. I know I was--Chicago avant-gard/postrock/alt-jazz types and 1996 hipsters of the year Tortoise reportedly backed Bucky up on his newest record, and they are playing the festival this year, so I naturally assumed they'd be behind him on stage. Nope, just two turntables, a microphone, and occasional backing vocals from his wife, Claire. (Who was either buried in the mix or wasn't enunciating well, it seemed.) Anyway, it sounded good, but whatever je ne sais quois he was missing, I'm not gonna hold against him.

  • Instinckt

  • Damn, you gotta check these guys out. I mean, if I said they modernise traditional Danish fiddle tunes, throatsinging and Donovan's favourite medieval instrument, the hurdy-gurdy, with updated danceable beats, you'd think they were like broccoli to a kid--good for you but tasting awful. But trust me, they're pretty entrancing if you give 'em a chance.

  • Hawksley Workman

  • So I'd somehow written Hawksley off as one of these studio-only type of guys. Maybe it's because of how intricate and multi-layered his records come off as, maybe it's because I'd heard of him as a producer before I'd heard of him as an artist, but there you go. Preconceptions suck. He's got a hell of a vocal range and he knows how to use it, toying with pitch and dynamics in a way that's spontaneous, soulful and yet weirdly torch/cabaret-esque. (Must be 'cause he's got Teh Ghey.) Oh, and he can still sing like that when he's doubling on guitar or drums, too. If he was a "Hit 'em with the hook" type, he'd probably be an International Superstar.

  • Jeff Tweedy

  • So I'd somehow written Jeff off as one of these studio-only type of guys. Maybe it's because I only know him from Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", a collection of songs that at their best balance a deceptive folk-pop simplicity with a sprawling psychedelic tape-collage aesthetic without either extreme cancelling the other out. No wait, that is the reason. Anyway, if you're expecting the freaky bits live, they're not gonna happen, but J-Twee as I'm sure his friends don't call him has whatever that quality is that makes a lone man with an acoustic guitar worth paying attention to. Definitely helps if you know enough to sing along to "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart"--that opening verse is genius:

    "I'm an American aquarium drinker
    Art assasin down the avenue
    I'm hiding out in the big city blinking
    What was I thinking when I let go of you?"

Friday, July 15, 2005

I'm not making this up, I swear

Actual error message from a porn site:

Error Occurred While Processing Request

Error Diagnostic Information

ColdFusion cannot determine how to process the tag <cflog>. The tag name may be misspelled.

If you are using tags whose names begin with CF but are not ColdFusion tags you should contact Allaire Support.

The error occurred while processing an element with a general identifier of (CFLOG), occupying document position (28:5) to (28:246).

Huh-huh, he said "CFLOG".

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Torpedoes dead ahead, Cap'n

Check out Andrew Bawidamann's old school pinup art. [tip o' the hat to volksrods]

Monday, July 11, 2005

Make it funky like a 1-Shot junkie

Practiced some more pinstriping today, this time on the bike. (Obviously.) Dunno if I'm gonna be able to use the seat I pinstriped--the seatpost looks to be a little wide for my seat tube, and I'm not sure if it'll bolt up to my existing seatpost or not. Also, pinstriping on chrome is hard. I'm gonna try adding some black or something for contrast on the fenders tommorrow.

Overheard conversation today, in a hardware store:

Dude #1: "Yeah, [WELL KNOWN STADIUM ROCK BAND] are okay, I guess, but they're a bunch of assholes. They caused $15000 worth of damage to the dressing room 'cause one of the guys got caught with another woman by his wife..."

Dude #2: "Aren't they supposed to be kind of a Christian band?"

Dude #1: "Yeah, funny thing, bands who do a lot of drugs and swear a lot never get violent like that, but with the Christians I guess it's cool..."

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

The further adventures of the paint-stained wretch

As promised, yesterday's tiki (on a dollar store glass picture frame):
...a Chevy Caprice hubcap:
...and a "Get Well" card for Pistol Pete (on a "HUG A NURSE" novelty license plate)

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Get well, Pete.

I mentioned earlier on here about what an artistic inspiration Pistol Pete's pinstriping is to me. (GeoCities link--if it's outta bandwidth, there's mirror here) Anyway, there's some terrible news there--he was involved in a terrible car accident a few days ago, and is in critical condition in hospital in Portland. (Let's just say if you're gonna get hit head-on by a FedEx truck, don't do it in a '65 Bug. Hell, don't, period.) His condition is improving all the time, but in the mean time, I'm rootin' for him. Funny how you can feel this kind of empathy for someone you've never met or even corresponded with, but somehow, his non-celebrity, "regular guy" status makes it seem all the more real.

Anyway, if anyone out there knows him and wants to send mojo and/or moolah, the details are in this Volksrods thread.

Get well soon, Pete.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Smokey the Bear sez: Only YOU can prevent bit-rot!

The thing about digital storage is, it might seem more robust than analog at first, but in between obsolete hardware/software/media/file formats, unintentional deletions, and good ol' fashioned entropy, today's data is tomorrow's dogfood. In light of that, here's a great AskMe thread on keeping your audio files alive forever.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

It came from beyond the Silver Age of Comics

Apropos Comics--All yer favourite superheroes, now with added funny. [via the 'fi]

He painted on the hundred dollar guitar

So, pretty much my first attempt at actually pinstriping something, rather than just practicing on an old computer case. I couldn't get a good closeup--my camera batteries were dying, and I didn't use macro mode for the closeup I did get--but, composition-wise, I'm kinda diggin' it. Technique-wise, not so much. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, etc etc.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It came from beyond the gay marriage debate

So they went and passed the you-know-what so all the you know whos can get joined in holy you-know-whatchimony. I expect the world to end soon, and chaos to ensue. You know, like in Denmark.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I got stripes

So I've been playing around a little bit with hot rod pinstriping for, oh, the past twenty minutes or so. On some subliminal level I blame Juxtapoz magazine and their hot rod-influenced view of outsider art, but my real inspiration is pretty much lurking on Volksrods and seeing Pistol Pete's jaw-dropping work. Checked out the Volksrods pinstriping thread, which led me to the Yahoo Pinstriperspage group and probably the best, if least organized, collection of info on the net. I couldn't find anybody in town who carries Mack brushes, so I've got a couple Heinz-Jordan dagger brushes for now, and laying down a consistent line seems kinda easy. Keeping it straight or curving it cleanly for the mad Von Dutch abstractness ain't so easy, but I plan to keep fartin' around laying paint on the inside of my PC case 'till I make something I'm not horribly unhappy with, and then... look out world, here I come. First victim needs to be my bike, next the ceramic cattle skull on my wall, and after that--anybody got a Karmann Ghia they wanna let go criminally cheap?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ultimately, it's L. Ron Hubbard's fault, innit?

I really don't expect this sort of shocking antic on daytime television. Well, maybe if they're showing Question Period or something. Anyway, I blame Scientology.

Positive Ape Index: Gremmie Out Of Control!

Item! Spending the three bucks on a new shifter cable for yr (well, mine) ten speed masquerading as a cruiser: Totally worth it. Those ten gears are now MINE, ALL MINE!

Item! Starting lists of random crap with the word Item! like that underinformed gossip column guy in the Onion (seriously, no link 'cause pretty much everybody on the Internerd knows what I mean) is vaguely amusing to me today!

Item! Exclamation points are totally in this week! LOLKTHXBYE!

Item! Nouvelle Vague's self titled CD is, rather than the tired ironic gimmickfest that you'd think from the concept (mostly dour early '80s postpunk/new wave anthems covered in a sunny, sultry samba/bossa stylee), actually pretty nifty. I'd spin some line of bullshit here about some tendril of reconstructed Brasilliana in alt-rock running from Arto "No Relation" Lindsay's roots output through Stereolab's Moogs, Marxism and moonshots hijacking of Sergio Mendes all the way to Calgary's own Leslie Feist and her journey from '90s punk to '00s acoustic downtempo lusciousness, but hell, even I wouldn't believe that, would I? Still, good schtuff. You wouldn't think the Dead Kennedy's "Too Drunk to Fuck" could sound this sexy, but it does.

However, it's not the greatest album ever. This is, it's official. Heads up to Coop for the tip.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bolts to fly, curses to throw... the next Monster Bicycle challenge is JUST! AROUND! THE CORNER!!

So maybe it's all the fault of the Discovery Channel, and how they seem to feature dudes with welders more often than dudes with microscopes. Or maybe it goes back to a youth spent worshipping ZZ Top, reading CarTOONS magazine (George Trosley, represent!) and Frankensteining one useable ten-speed out of a pile of garage-sale junkers, but I've been feeling the need for a bad-ass pedal powered hot rod of late. You know the drill: laid-back seat, low slung stance, pedals pushed forward and a long springer fork topped by a big ol' set of ape hangers. (Metalflake paint and some bad ass pinstriping would be the icing on the cake.

Problem is, I haven't got a welder (or the knowledge to use it--however, a friend just returned from BC with a welding ticket, so I might have someone's brains to pick on that score) and I'm too cheap to drop $500+ on an Electra or the like. Hell, I'm even too cheap to drop $200 on one of those new school choppers like the Schwinn OCC Stingray, West Coast Choppers bike or the others--not knowing that I'm gonna have to tear the whole thing apart and reassemble it myself properly*, and then sink some coin into customising it so it reflects me and not some corporate focus group. Fahgeddaboutit.

So, unless and until I can weld & fab my own frames (and there's the lazy thing there to contend with...), I'm sorta looking for a good deal on an old-school Schwinn cruiser or similar. Until then, though, I've picked up an old Apollo Dee-Lite 10 speed. Came with chrome fenders (oooh, shiny!) and a nifty analog speedo. Nice patina, good example of vintage speed, and in spite of the quite frankly horrible shape of the tires, it takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. So I rewarded the old girl--the "El Rattletrap Special", as I think of her--with some chrome goodies today.

Item one: Any job like this, requires the sacrifice of at least one small tool and/or bolt to the Lawn Gods. One of these days, I'm gonna need to actually get proper screwdrivers rather than these dinky-ass screwdriver bits for my El Cheapo pawnshop cordless socket driver.

Item two: Getting it apart is always easier than putting it back together.

Item three: All the "mechanics for dummies" books in the world can't stress enough the importance of properly sorting and labelling all the little bits that come off something you're disassembling. I say they can't emphasise this enough because, well, they *haven't*. Seriously, dudes, I still ain't doin' that, and it's gonna take a whole lot more bold print to change my foolish ways.

Item four: With the ape hangers installed, and my fork lying in pieces as I scratch my head over how to install my new springer, which has a. too big of a diameter tubing for my headset and b. no threads to screw it together, my roommate arrives.

He: "What's goin' on?"
Me: "I bought some ape hangers and a springer fork for my bike. Can't figure the fork out, but the ape hangers are gonna look BAD ASS."
He: "Uh... yeah. Looks, uh, good." (While, no doubt, thinking: "Dork." Guilty as charged, boyeee.)

I should point out, *his* two wheeled paragon of rolling koolness (a Harley FXR Lowrider) has a multi-million dollar industry devoted solely to making them look shinier and more outlandish, but hey, they cost more, so they're cooler, right?

Item four: Ahh, screw the springers, put the stock fork on and Get 'R Done. Funny how one simple piece of bent metal can make a bike feel so different. She rides great, though.

[*] Next time you're at Wally World, take a look at how many display bikes have handlebars on loose, fenders misaligned, etc., and then tell me "free assembly" is a good deal...

Quirk City

Dear Blogger powers-that-be:

The 'Blog This' bookmarklet uses a slightly different editor widget than normal blogposting. Uh, why?

In 8-bit terms, this is what it's all about

20 GOTO 20

Some of you may remember me from my old blog,, a.k.a. One Million Monkeys. 'Tain't no more, on account of I ran out of ambition around the same time my hosting contract came up. One of these days, I'm gonna square up with my old hosting company, but until then, you're gonna find me here. Anyway, Blogger's fancypants web-based posting just might sit a little better with my semi-lazy nature than the old Rube Goldbergian mess of string, glue, duct tape, Blosxom, and chewing gum that used to transmit my occasional thoughts to an audience who came looking for either that infomercial dude, or the real skinny on Geraldine and Ricky. I promise I'll get to the bottom of that one someday... and by "promise", I mean "pretty much highly doubt".