Category Archives: Automotive

Metropolis II by Chris Burden

Chris Burden seems to have had two very distinct artistic selves… Those two selves would be Chris Burden the Younger and then Chris Burden the Elder. He has gone from the extreme self-mutilating performance artist of his early years in the 1970’s into his current incarnation as the Willy Wonka artist who brings to reality the wildest dreams of many pre-adolescent children.

A short doc about a kinetic sculpture that took four years to build. We had the honor of spending three days in Chris Burden’s studio filming this sculpture before it was moved to the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) where it is being reinstalled…

Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Edited by Max Joseph
Cinemtography by Schulman, Joost & Van Neistat
Music by Tortoise (Ten-Day interval) & Mahogany (Windmill International A)

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Filed under Art, Automotive, scale modeling, Transportation

Classics, Wrecked

Here's a perfect excuse for clever a "wrecked 'em" pun and I can't think of one.

Classic Wrecks is your one-stop Etsy shop that will help you build the junkyard of your dreams.  John Findra builds 1/24 scale models of classic automobiles and then, as they would say in the fashion industry, distresses them.  I’ve always been a fan of scale modelers who build airplane crash or battle damaged armor dioramas.  The idea of cutting a brand new model off the sprues, and putting it together in the exact opposite condition of factory fresh puts a big smile on my face.

Helen Killer over at Regretsy listed John’s work as her number one favorite purchase of 2011.

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Filed under Art, Automotive, scale modeling, Transportation

Gay For May, Part The Third

I believe my arguments for James May as the avatar for the modern day Renaissance Man were persuasive on the Renaissance portion, but may have come up short on the Man half.  The short clip that follows will forever balance the equation.  On this episode of The F-Wordcelebrity chef Gordon Ramsay challenges May to ingest some of the world’s most disgusting foodstuffs.

In the next challenge, Ramsay and May square off in a cook-off.  The dish?  Fish pie.

If you’ve never seen The F-Word, the customers in the restaurant decide whose dish is best.   You’ll notice the clip ends before the winner is named.   I suspect that’s because Ramsay announces that if May wins, he’ll quit cooking forever.  James May, Renaissance Man, does indeed defeat celebrity chef and mere mortal Gordon Ramsay.  You should look for the entire episode because Ramsay’s reaction is well worth it.  It’s just one more reason I am Gay for May.

DISCLAIMER: it should go without saying that the title of these posts is meant to be taken with a grain of salt upon the tongue which you should plant firmly in your cheek.  I do not mean to in any way insinuate that James May is gay.  Nor, in fact, am I.  Only that James May is what I would consider an ideal male specimen and my affection for him will not be constrained by the label “bromance.”

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Filed under Automotive, Gay For May, Humor

In Post-Soviet Russia, Blue Bucket Is Middle Finger

Ryan’s Russia is the best new show on Bloomberg Television.  How do I know this?  Full Disclosure: I am a closed captioner for the hearing impaired and I caption Bloomberg News nearly every day.  Though I’m not their target demographic, Ryan’s Russia has been a nice little surprise.  It’s hosted by Ryan Chilcote, who spent time in Russia as an exchange student in the ’90s.  He’s speaks the language fluently and, in a refreshing change of pace — get ready for this — does some actual long-form reporting, the likes of which you might find on the endangered species list.

Edit: Well, crap.  Bloomberg is not terribly embed-friendly.  That’s unfortunate.  Go here to watch the full episode. 

The first segment of the program deals with a problem near and dear to my heart, traffic.  Did you know Moscow has the worst traffic in the world?  I didn’t either.  Moscow’s roads were designed around public transport.  But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians have developed a desire for self-contained human transport solutions, or cars.  In the above video, Chilcote demonstrates how on an average day, a drive from the airport to the Kremlin — a distance of 19 miles — takes three and a half hours.  As an Angeleno, I’m not sure whether to rejoice or weep over the fact that we’ve been beaten by the Russians in a leisure activity at which we truly excelled.

But the terrible traffic is only half the story.  I first became aware of the larger issue couple of years ago, when I read William Gibson’s excellent Pattern Recognition.  Part of the story takes places in Moscow and Gibson talks about how the politically powerful and the wealthy get around the traffic in cars equipped with flashing blue lights.  Everyone is supposed to make way, like good little former communists.  But no longer.  A spunky group of protestors calling themselves the Blue Bucket Brigade dress up like Stalin’s secret police, affix blue buckets to the roofs of their cars (and to their heads) to speak out against such abuses.  They have apparently become quite a headache to the elite.  Good show, comrades.

In the same episode, Chilcote also talks to anti-corruption crusader, Alexei Navalny.  He uses a pretty awesome technique to gather information about Russia’s secretive corporations.  Navalny buys stocks in the companies which grants him access to their filings.  He then posts what he finds on his blog.  Needless to say, this makes Vladimir Putin unhappy.  Chilcote also visits a cemetery in Moscow which is the final resting place for remains of dozens of people killed by Chechen rebels in the  Moscow Theater siege as well as several former Soviet-era hockey gods.  The whole series is well worth watching.  And I’d like to give a thumbs up to the art department for the graphics.  I wish there were some images available to post.

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Filed under Automotive, Counterculture, News, Travel

Toyota Has Seen The Future And It Looks Like Tron

I love cars.  I’ve loved cars since the time I could jam as many Hot Wheels into my corduroy OshKosh B’Gosh overalls as the pockets would hold.  But I believe the age of the car is coming to an end.  With global warming, high energy costs, time per year spent sitting in traffic and the growing movement to think and act locally, car ownership has become more tedious than fun.  The U.S. is woefully behind the curve when it comes to decent public transport and this is a serious impediment to those who would love to ditch their cars altogether.

So, as a lover of cars, I love to look at prototypes and concept cars to see if I can wrap my head around what the automotive industry is thinking about when it comes to human transport solutions.  Judging from the new Toyota concept car, the Fun Vii, the answer seems to be “distract the customer from how dreadful the car ownership experience is with flashing lights and the ability to use your car as a smart phone.”

Let’s start with the fact that it looks like a light cycle from the original Tron movie.  That came out in 1982.  Now, I’m the last one to speak out on the virtues of not fetishizing the ’80s, but I’m not a car designer– much less a car designer tasked with envisioning a concept car still 10 years on the horizon.  Just speaking strictly in terms of design of the car, is this really the best you’ve got, Toyota?  If so, I maintain my belief the auto industry as we know it is doomed.

But this doesn’t even take into account the other ridiculous and useless features of the Fun Vii.  First, everyone obsesses to some degree about how their ride looks.  Aesthetics are a major consideration for any car purchase.  But once you’ve made your decision, you have to stand by it.  Imagine if you could change the way your car looks every day.  Would anybody get anything done?  The novelty of this feature would wear thin quickly and you would eventually leave it on one default setting.

Second, we have smart phones that already do much of what this car would supposedly do 10 years.  If I had any friends, I could message or talk to them without my car.  What does the guy in the commercial do when his car is parked in the garage and needs to tell his friends where he is?

Last, the concert idea thing where the cars all become part of the event?  Come on.  That’s just lame.  Everyone knows the worst thing about going to large scale events like that is trying to get out of the parking lot afterward.  It will be much worse when someone’s car battery dies because it was doing the 21st century equivalent of a Blue Öyster Cult light show.

When it comes down to it, no matter how you dress them up, cars are utilitarian.  We have them because we have to.  We have them because we made the mistake of building our infrastructure around them.  But they have outlived their usefulness.  For the average person who can’t afford a Lamborghini, there is little pleasure in the day-to-day operation of their motor vehicle.  I wish that instead of trying to figure out what kinds of cars they think people will want in 10 years, the automotive companies and municipalities would collaborate on what sort of transportation solutions we need.  Yeah, like that’ll happen.

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Filed under Automotive