Gremlin

But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget – no matter how much he cries, or how much he begs, never, never feed him after midnight.
—-Gremlins

Rodeo Goat, Dallas, Texas

I am of the age that I remember, vaguely, a time when an American Motors Company Gremlin (undoubtedly one of the worst cars of all time) was pretty cool. Those of you lucky enough to not know what a Gremlin is – it is a vehicle, one of the first American Subcompacts (competing against the Pinto and the Vega… yeah) made by a terrible car company, AMC. They took a bad car, the AMC Hornet, and “improved” it by chopping the back end off, leaving an almost-vertical hatchback. CBS rates it as the sixth ugliest car ever made.

But I remember the 1970’s well and I remember that I thought the Gremlin was really cool. What the hell? A lot of kids drove Gremlins when I was in college, even some of my friend’s moms drove them. I never met a male over 20 that owned one, though there must have been some, somewhere. They sold for about eighteen hundred dollars each at the time (a cherry Gremlin today might cost you almost 30 grand).

My favorite memory was a summer from college, a hot, steamy Saturday night, visiting a friend in a small Kansas town. There were four of us, packed into a Gremlin, driving up and down the rough brick-encrusted main street, up and down, listening to a quadraphonic eight track playing music at a ridiculous volume in that tiny tin space. This was the pinnacle of coolness in 1974.

It has all been downhill since then.

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Crash

A car crash harnesses elements of eroticism, aggression, desire, speed, drama, kinesthetic factors, the stylizing of motion, consumer goods, status — all these in one event. I myself see the car crash as a tremendous sexual event really: a liberation of human and machine libido (if there is such a thing).
—-J. G. Ballard

Deep Ellum, Texas

I saw something very strange on the drive in to work today. To see something, anything, different along the route I drive every morning, have for well over three thousand times now, is strange in and of itself… to see something strange is double strange.

First, I remember moving to Texas. Like anyplace that is of itself, Texas has a few things to get used to – two driving things, for example.

First, people park facing the wrong way on residential streets all the time. Anywhere else – this will get you towed immediately… in Texas, it makes no difference – half the cars are on the left hand side.

Second, people run lights. I remember moving here, hitting a yellow and going, thinking to myself, “Wow, that was close, probably should have stopped.” Then I would look in my mirror and a half dozen cars would be running through after me.

The other side is when that light turns green, don’t jump out right away, wait for everyone to come to a stop.

At any rate, I was on my way to work (had some equipment to haul and was driving instead of riding my bike) and waiting at a long, busy red light… you know the one, the one at Grove and Centennial , with the McDonald’s and the Chilly Mart across from me. The light turned red as I arrived, so I was the first one in the ever-growing line, waiting for the light to change.

The cross light went from red to yellow to green and I looked up to make sure the traffic was stopped. A small black car was approaching on my left with a huge dumptruck behind. I assumed both would run through, so I waited. To my surprise, the small car braked hard and stopped at the light – I think there was a little brake squeal.

The truck behind didn’t expect him to stop, and plowed right into the rear of the car. It had one of those huge steel bumpers, set high, and completely smashed in the trunk of the car. There was that POP-Bang-Crunch of metal rending in a crash. The impact pushed the little car through the intersection like a pebble from a slingshot. As it passed in front of me, I thought, “Good, it is past the intersection, I can drive through, I won’t be late for work.”

Then came the strange part.

The car never stopped. It just kept on driving. Because I was first in line I could see around the bend to the right for quite a distance, maybe half a mile, and the car didn’t slow down – it simply sped away. I guess the high bumper on the truck smashed in the trunk without damaging the wheels or anything important, as far as moving goes.
The car disappeared around the curve and I turned back to see the truck – it didn’t have a scratch. That huge slab of rusty steel bumper looked indestructible. There was a surprisingly small amount of debris in the intersection… my light was green… I couldn’t think of any reason not to… so I drove through and went to work.

So why did the car drive away like that? The accident was 100% the fault of the truck and it was a commercial vehicle – basically, insurance would buy the guy a new car.

I can only think of a few possibilities.

One, the car was stolen… but I don’t think that would happen at that hour of the morning.

The most probable reason was the driver had warrants and didn’t want to deal with the cops.

Or maybe the driver was a complete idiot and didn’t realize the rear of his car was smashed in like that (doesn’t make sense, I know).

All in all, a pretty strange thing to watch on a morning commute.

Cadillac Goddess Hood Ornament

From the Pistons and Paint Car Show in Denton, Texas

From the Pistons and Paint Car Show in Denton, Texas

Hey, little girlie in the blue jeans so tight
Drivin’ alone through the Wisconsin night
You’re my last love baby you’re my last chance
Don’t let ’em take me to the Cadillac Ranch
—-Bruce Springsteen, Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Rancy

A crude little sketch I did in watercolor pencil at the Cadillac Ranch west of Amarillo.

Old Guys Rule Cadillac Ranch Amarillo, Texas

Old Guys Rule
Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo, Texas

Dallas Art Park, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Dallas Art Park, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Every Heart Sings A Song

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”
― Plato

Mural of Madison King behind cars from the Invasion Car Show Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Mural of Madison King
behind cars from the Invasion Car Show
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

Mural of Madison King, by Frank Campagna

I’ve been a fan of Madison King for a while now and was glad that Frank Campagna chose her for one of the murals in Deep Ellum.

Madison King at the first Patio Session

Madison King at the first Patio Session

Disappear Here

“I come to a red light, tempted to go through it, then stop once I see a billboard sign that I don’t remember seeing and I look up at it. All it says is ‘Disappear Here’ and even though it’s probably an ad for some resort, it still freaks me out a little and I step on the gas really hard and the car screeches as I leave the light.”
― Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero

Invasion Car Show Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Invasion Car Show
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

A Subversive Element in it

“Any startling piece of work has a subversive element in it, a delicious element often. Subversion is only disagreeable when it manifests in political or social activity.”
—-Leonard Cohen

Rat Fink Invasion Car Show Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Rat Fink – painted on a firewall
Invasion Car Show
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

When I was a little kid – I used to put together plastic models of airplanes. I really enjoyed it – and I couldn’t imagine buying any kits other than aircraft. Then I met some guy, my age, that bought these weird little Ed Roth car kits – Rat Fink and that sort of stuff. At first it seemed uselessly weird to me, but the more I paid attention to the style and attitude, the more I liked it (though I was not then and never would be – a car person).

Now, I realize that it was my first exposure to subversive ideas – the first, but not the last.

Red and White

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

The aliens of Altair Six developed an interstellar drive – but it required such immense amounts of energy that the probe sent through the time/space vortex could be no larger than a mote of dust and the temporal rift so unstable that only one blurry image could be sent back.

They had established Earth as a good candidate for life and the high priests had blessed the probe (they had long ago abandoned the difference between science and religion – both relied on faith) and were confident that if life existed on the distant rock, it would show up in the image.

They were right. The single image returned showed an ordered collection of what were undoubtedly life forms. But exactly what were they looking at? Why were the individuals on one side all bedecked in bright white, while the others shone blazing red?

The debate raged on Altair Six. The accepted theory is one of racism – the photo showed a border with the white-lighted denizens restricted on one side, the red on the other. There is obviously no mixing of the two races – the apartheid is complete.

Others believed the dichotomy was age-based. Noting that the white creatures shone brighter than the red, the theory was advanced that the red were larval forms, while the white were full-grown. It was thought that they were separated to keep the developed individuals from eating the fry.

One controversial idea, put forth by Professor Yo’rin Cake of the University of Vultur Volans that the objects in the image aren’t actually life forms, but some sort of dwelling. The color of the lighting, red or white, is merely a marker to help delineate different neighborhoods.

This was dismissed by the learned councils out of hand. It was considered impossible to have that many dwellings in the image without capturing any of the life forms themselves.

Still, the debate between these and many other factions, some completely ridiculous, others more studied and mainstream, continued and only grew in intensity and cacophony. In an attempt to find an answer to this question an enormous portion of Altair Six’s economy was dedicated to building a huge power facility and a corresponding time/space vortex generator. The plans were laid to send a larger probe with a better camera and more sensors to finally answer the mysteries of the rock called Earth.

Unfortunately, their reach exceeded their grasp and the interstellar probe complex broke down and exploded. It was a terrible planet-wide disaster and set the society back by millennia. They were reduced to a level of advancement only slightly higher than ours.