Monday, February 27, 2006

Pulse Dial

Everybody is asking, what is going on at Hooptyrides, Inc.? Quite a bit, but floor mopping and paint scraping don't really seem like they are worth blogging. God knows, they have been blogged, but I don't know that they should be.

As opposed to these phones! Sure, they are pulse and the property of the Bell System, but has there ever been a better looking phone? As far as I am concerned, there has never been a more handsome, more comfortable or better sounding phone than the classic Henry Dreyfuss 500. And that red, dial-less phone looks like it is fresh from the lobby of The Plaza.

But it is even better! The CONFIDENCER! Hold close to mouth, indeed. May as well say, WHISPER. This is not just an aftermarket replacement cap; the CONFIDENCER is a complete new mic.

What am I going to do with these phones? Use 'em at Hooptyrides! I will still have a modern cordless, as I am so fond of endless touchtone-triggered customer service menus, but I will turn off the ringer on all modern phones. Telephone calls will be an event! Somebody is calling Hooptyrides! Maybe it is long distance! Perhaps the caller is a deep pocketed sucker! Let the bells ring!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Responding to my query, eagle eye Coop reported that he had seen Dick Rude driving the Flea Multi-Mercedes. Sure enough, I dropped Mr. Rude an email and he responded with these photos.

"A few years back the car starred in an Abercrombie & Fitch advertising shot by Bruce Weber! Mostly it serves as a source of great joy to kids, an object of insult to others and a focal point for a lot of stupid questions. For me, it is just a reliable car that gets me around." - Dick Rude

Talk about your punk rock provenance! There is no single color on this car that is acceptable except maybe the hood, which looks like a bright, new blade of grass. Somehow, in concert, all the colors look pretty damned good in that gumball machine sort of way. Dick reports that the clear coat is dissolving as we speak, but it looks like a very professional paint job. No brightwork was painted that shouldn't have been, the door trim was lovingly masked, and even the trim pieces under the headlights are a different color. Cool!
Hooptyrider Jason points us to the BMW sponsored art project. The above photo is a BMW by Calder but my favorite is by Stella. BMW must feel like they got their money's worth from Sandro Chia but the Holzer probably left them hesitant to open the checkbook again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


My friend Damon sent this eBay link for an extremely compelling mobile Mercury outboard motor collection. Seems absolutely sensible to me.
"To date I know of only 2 other traveling Mercury collections as extensive as this unit and neither one is based here in the east."
See? This is not the work of a crackpot. There are at least two other Western individuals who have extensive traveling collections. I am a piss poor collector. My scope is maddeningly broad and unrefined. Not a scholar nor a completist, sometimes I come across cigar boxes full of stuff I forgot I even collected. Advertising thermometers? Cigarette lighters? Embroidered patches?

I don't even have a boat, much less a need for an outboard motor, but they sure are pretty.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Childhood in a Jar

Recently, I purchased this garage sale copy stand to further my Make Magazine activities. In the pre-copy stand days, I was endlessly stumbling over my tripod, never able to extend deep enough over the table, fighting with uneven lighting, never getting a square overhead shot and always on the damn pins and the damn needles about knocking over the whole shooting match. A week prior to purchasing this copy stand, I passed on a different model for which the owners were asking the princely sum of $50. Apparently they had never heard about the flatbed scanner revolution. Luckily, the very next weekend, this example was purchased from sober and technologically aware sellers for a much more reasonable $10. They knew they had a turd and more importantly, they knew they had a sucker.

So, I completed all Make column reference photos with the aid of my copy stand and it was a smashing home run. Then it dawned on me that I should use it to catalog the world's most important museum to be contained in a Skippy peanut butter jar. My Cabinet of Curiousites is split into broad catagories like Natural Splendor, Math and Science and Youth and Folly. My most compact museum of one child's great treasures fits in a single peanut butter jar and resides in the Youth and Folly wing.

Looks like it is floating in space, doesn't it? When was the last time you bought something that was guaranteed to be perfect? Nevermind the peanut butter, this jar is perfect.

Don't worry about that cut on my finger - it is healing just fine.

This exquisite jar is the Navarro toolbox of blue sky dreaming. It is skinned knees and tiddlywinks from the post-war era of unlimited potential and knowing superiority. This jar houses the collected treasures of Mr. Frankie Bartoli of Chicago, Illinois and was sold to me by his family for $1. I bought it because the Smithsonian had not stopped at the garage sale prior to my arrival. But, like the Smithsonian would have, I took a photo of every single item inside.
No individual item is handmade or fine. The jar is filled with a bunch of dimestore crap but, as any curator will tell you, the sum of the parts is more important than the individual you-know-what. Commonplace five-n-dime, but every so often I needed to take the camera from the copy stand and get some perspective. The shoe is familiar to anybody who has ever played a board game in their entire life, but look at that elegant coupe in the background. Some of us spend lots of time thinking about the reference that went into little toys like this. French Deco. Definitely French.

The copy stand is really great. Perhaps I should do a Make article on building one, because the results are pretty stunning. Of course, building one would be twice the cost of finding one at a garage sale. With the matched lights on each side, the light is really flat on the high surfaces and I am crazy about the shadows going in both directions. As far as the object itself, what can I say? You see it.

Garage sales deliver in more ways than can be enumerated. Perhaps one day I will pen a little book of sonnets on what garage sales can mean. Worse sonnets have probably been written. When you garage sale, you see things that you forgot. Mundane objects that you had forgotten about transport you back to experiences that you had forgotten. Corning Ware coffee pots and brass fireplace andirons all remind you.

Everyday the Wall Street Journal arrives in a rubber band and during weeks when I get few issues read, I joke that my WSJ subscription is nothing but an extremely expensive daily rubber band delivery service. But when you find a rubber band in your jar of treasures, you realize that you had forgotten how satisfying a big meaty rubber band can be.
When you are a kid, currency is very elastic. Money is certainly understood, coveted, and quickly spent, but the more immediate kid currency is anything that can be used and enjoyed at once, like caps, bubble gum, water balloons, BBs and bicycle inner tubes.
Of all the deluxe items found inside the most wonderful jar, my very favorite is this well used eraser. I use pencils daily and make do with the eraser that is on the pencil end. When I saw this eraser, I realized how little I really use pencils in comparison to when I was 10. That was a pencil and eraser intensive period.

Every object photographed at my Flickr set Compact Childhood Museum. None of the objects from the museum are for sale, though I would donate the entire collection to the Smithsonian or trade for a Hispano-Suiza.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Kind Hooptyreader Jim pointed out that I don't have a Gumco, I have a Gomco. Jim couldn't be more right. If you search for Gomco and go to your local Suction Unit and Aspirators Shop, you can buy a machine remarkably similar to mine for a paltry $2350. Of course, mine is an artful piece of medical history from a time when great design and manufacture were the rule, but at least you won't have to do without. Or, I will trade mine for custom bodied pre-war fine American and European automobiles.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Super Discount Monkeemobile!

Upon seeing the wild homemade dune buggies, Hooptyrider Vince sent in pictures of this superb Oldsmobile V-8 powered beach buggy. What it is lacking in refinement it certainly makes up for in passion. I imagine women were powerless over the appeal of these cool kats in this hopped up jalopy. Please note the giant engine, oogah horn, hood ornament and, if I am not mistaken, what appears to be a battery that is damn near bumper mounted. Would these fellas have had any more fun if it was shiny, red and purchased brand new?

Though it is difficult to make out, that is indeed a beer keg gas tank on the roof. From The Department of Simpler Times or perhaps from The Department of More Lax DMV Regulations, you will note that this custom coachwork dune buggy has license plates! Don't tell Boyd Coddington.

I would have named it Junkyard Dog.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Harlequin Rubiks!

Who didn't love the Harlequin Golf when it came out? It was like the Swatch watch of automobiles. Each Harlequin was a random assemblage of colors to create a goofball color combination that was unlike any of the few other super rare Harlequins. Under 500 made, this was a car developed by Volkswagen when they are at the absolute peak of their game. I still think Rabbits and 16v Sciroccos look menacing with all the sharp edges. And those 70s sharp edges were certainly prescient of the look to come. Flea, of the Chili Peppers, had a Mercedes 500 SEL that was painted very much like a Harlequin Golf and every once in awhile I still see it driving around LA although it is owned by somebody else now. Anybody have a photo of the Flea Mercedes?

I have been spending lots of time investigating vehicle wrapping as I am working on an article for a special Make magazine issue. Not surprisingly, it is a complicated endeavor to wrap flat sheets around compound curves with a heat gun. I found this superb Rubik Scion on the Ambient Graphics site. Appears to be a 6x3 'cube', so there is some poetic license taken but, what the hey, it's not like you are going to solve an xB. Coop told me the xB is due for a redesign which is a real shame because everytime I see an xB I still smile. These were designed by people who played with Legos for people who played with Legos.

Any Hooptyriders work/own a large format printing and vehicle wrap shop in Los Angeles? Want a co-writing credit for a super cool Make article? Email me pronto fast.