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.