Fade Away And Radiate

Ooh baby, watchful lines vibrate soft in brainwave time.
Silver pictures move so slow.
Golden tubes faintly glow.
Electric faces seem to merge.
Hidden voices mock your words.
Fade away and radiate.
—-Blondie, Fade Away and Radiate

Car Show, 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.

Nose Art

A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

It is too late.
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, opening lines.

Machine gun and pinup girl

Machine gun and pinup girl

The doomed flyboys of WWII painted pinup girls on the noses of their B-17s cementing the fusion of sex and bombs, of beautiful women and annihilation from the sky, of danger and love, of longing and luck, of desire and death.

Image from Wikipedia.

Image from Wikipedia.

This is the (arguably) most famous of all, the “Memphis Belle.”

I give you a reproduction, a homage if you will – painted on a restored old car, a “Rat Rod” – complete with fake machine guns mounted over the exhaust headers.

Rat Rod - Car Show, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Rat Rod – Car Show, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Sex and power and death and speed, beauty and doom, lust and destruction – a potent cocktail that tastes like licorice and smells like gasoline.


“I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.”
—- W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

Pinstriper at work, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas (click to enlarge)

Pinstriper at work, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas
(click to enlarge)

To watch someone do something like this is like watching someone doing magic – real magic. I can’t imagine having the eye, the dexterity, most of all the ability to shut everything out of mind other than the brush, the fender, and the paint. Notice how he has the two colors of paint he is using in daubs on his index finger – he picks up what he needs and brushes it in place. It is completely freehand – no masking tape, no guide lines, not even a design done ahead of time.

Yet the result is perfect. It is smooth, faultless, and symmetrical – even though it is applied to a complex curve on a rusty Volkswagen Beetle fender. The sun was beating down – it was about 104 degrees. It was so hot, I could barely think straight.

“I hate to paint portraits! I hope never to paint another portrait in my life…. Portraiture may be all right for a man in his you th, but after forty I believe that manual dexterity deserts one, and, besides, the colour-sense is less acute. Youth can better stand the exactions of a personal kind that are inseparable from portraiture. I have had enough of it”
—- John Singer Sargent