Equinox sunset at Salk

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Grey Wolf

I saw my good friend Mike at the gym this morning. He said "Get over it, Rob - your blog has been really depressing, lately. Skull banner and all." He had written a note to me but ultimately never sent it. I had been rather proud of my recent work product, but I confess that I have been on a downer. Oh well.

So I redid my banner and dialed up a few cosmetic changes and we are now ready to roll, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you, Mike.


I just had my second Wyland come in this month with an owner desperate to sell. Wyland belongs to the school of Violet Parkurst, Kincade, Blue Dog, Max, Patrick Nagel, manufactured art designed to snare the unwitting on their (select one) a. Hawaiian, b. Palm Springs, c. Vegas vacation. Art that muggles pay a fortune for and then find out is basically worthless in the after market. Normally I am exceedingly kind but having been in a bad mood recently decided to be brutally honest this morning. "Sir, you were ensnared by a mass produced con game that has little or no worth on the market today." He looked at me with a little shock when I said that it was worth as little as fifty dollars. "Well," he says with happiness, "that's more than I paid for it..."

A guy just called who wants to bring down a painting of Elvis done by a woman named Skilly who specialized in paintings of golf courses in the 1970's. I pleaded with him to send me a jpeg instead so that I could spare myself the pain of seared retinas while doing his appraisal. We live in interesting times.


Last month, or whenever it was that we went to see Frampton, four of us were driving out through the orange groves towards Rincon one evening when a late model silver corvette pulled up next to us and eventually passed us. The occupant had a slicked back quasi-mullet and was on the downside of sixty, I think. Black sunglasses, leather jacket, all under a fog of swank cologne. The vette had a Grey Wolf license plate. We all made quick eye contact and then he was back in his movie.

I am sure that upon further examination, we could have found a wallet chain and frye boots, remember the square toed model with the straps and ring? Maybe a Dickie Betts cassette lying around somewhere.

We all had the same thought and started laughing when the guy drove past. Because it was such a cartoon but he was so into the whole schtick. And I would be willing to lay odds that this guy was once a Camaro or Trans-am man. Don't ask me how I know.

I mention this because I wanted to talk about the new 2010, 2011 Chevrolet Camaro.  I first saw it on a trip north a couple months ago and was fascinated by it. In a hideous kind of way. It was like a 14 year old's testosterone charged wet dream stylistically. Sort of a cartoon. Almost gross in its puffery. A touch of batman, perhaps.

Would it be fair to surmise that the owners of this vehicle will fit a certain psychological profile? Hmmm, out of my pay grade. Some sort of compensation, perhaps. The original Camaro, like the original Mustang, was a very nice vehicle. Sexy, tough, not overdone. Why did Ford and Chevy feel the need to put them on steroids?


My father was a car collector, I grew up with XKE's, Bentley's and his beloved 1965 Aston Martin DB5 convertible. Superleggera body. Along with Mustangs and a few other cars. When I was a kid I always thought that the Jag had a slightly better design overall than the Corvette, at least the 60's era Vettes.

Why do the cars in Detroit fail to meet the design apogee of their european counterparts? What gross deficiency or aspect of the American consumer are these cars trying to cater to? Sure we have had some serious successes here, the original T-bird, Nomad, Cobra and Camaro notwithstanding, they just always find a way to ruin them.

With a few more hours on the drawing board and a good cutting torch, these bloated muscle cars could be streamlined into vehicles that would past muster with everybody, even art snobs like me. But the cars seem to aspire to be the wickedest ride at the Walmart, the baddest ass wheels in flyover country, the car specially designed for the male who still keeps a small hairbrush in his pocket. The  R.E.O. Speedwagon disk in the eight speaker Bose System Cd Player. I am sure that these cars are still magic at helping a small town guy get laid.


I started to try to figure out what grossed me out the most about this particular car. Beyond the obvious evil transformer thing.

The cardinal rule of design is that form follows function. With the Camaro, make that nothing exceeds like excess. The whole top section is squashed down, severely reducing window area and restricting visibility.

Both the front and back of at least some models have a quite peculiar center line that breaks to either side. What happpened to clean? The front spoiler looks like a major design fail, the whole kaboodle could much more effectively contour back under the car and the headlamps mass cancels out the similar mass of the running lights to a degree. Grill looks like ill conceived Detroit junk.

The little trapezoid area that is created to the rear of the doors is contrived and bizarre and appears to me to be an unnecessary and gratuitous design element. Reminds me somewhat of Batman's uniform in its angularity. The rear wheel well still has the exquisite flareout from the original Camaro and probably earlier Corvette. This was a classic design element that they have thankfully kept. The rest of the car owes more to the horrid late model Mustang than the original Camaro design. A lot of body mass that serves no conceivable function.

I used to design a lot of houses. I learned that good design doesn't have to cost any more money. All it takes is a little more thinking, an attention to detail and composition and a desire not to fail. Why do we settle for less in this country? When was the last time you got off on an American car? Why are the europeans and japanese kicking our ass in the style department?

I am sure that they will sell a zillion of these things.


Anonymous said...

Camero owners are likely to attend a tea party rally.
They say guys with little pee pee's compensate with fancy expensive fast cars. Camero offers none of that and the people who buy these wanna be's are dicks anyway.
The Camero is a redesigned Chevy Corvair, with the engine finding the front of the car. It reeks New Jersey.
I don't think they actually manufacter Cameros. You could actually imagine a Corvette mounting a Firebird in a traffic jam and producing a Camero.
It is no wonder GMC was bailed out by the Govt. Who designs these piece of shit cars? Cadillac's Escalade resembles the electric wheelchairs old ladies use in assisted living homes.
I once rented a Malibu. The interior was all plastic and vinyl and it ran like a lawn mower. My sister-in-law once had a Camero with a 4 cylinder engine that ran like a VW bug.
To top it off GM always wants more money for thier gas guzzler muscle cars than the higher rated Rice Rockets. Who would pay thousands more for a planned obsolensent pile of bolts that always gets low ratings, except in the trade magazines that are lobbied by GM, such as Motor Trend (a magazine that gives favorable articles to its advertisers and Consumer Digest, a fake magazine confused for the real deal; Consumer Reports)
Face it Chevy has been going downhill since the 57 Chevy. I don't care if Howie Long can kick my ass--fuck him and his crappy cars.

Anonymous said...

Them boots. They are called Harness Boots. I had a pair. Bitchin'.

windowdancer said...

Yes Blue Heron... the new banner is both hip and stylized. Just the right amount of a little something for everybody. I must admit that I did like the skull a lot better, but Rick Griffin made the cut so I'm still visually stimulated.

I do like the quotes this time also. Especially "A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead." For the most part a statement that is so very true.

On the other side of the coin it has also been said that “Today's liberal is one who has both feet firmly planted in the air.”

I'll let you be the judge on that one.

Keep up the good work and remember... Keep it "Fair and Balanced".


WildBill said...

How about the lime green one, customized, with Elvis in white leather airbrushed on the hood, three dolphins on each side and a nice sunset seascape on the trunk lid.

Blue Heron said...

I love you guys.

Blue Heron said...

Rick Griffin was a close friend, Dancer. Perhaps you know that, perhaps you know me. There are actually two Griffins on the masthead, one I own the original art to, and an Alton Kelly. Gary Panter's Jimbo and Jack Kirby's Watcher. Most of the other shots are my own work. Glad you like the quotes - maybe the first person who has ever directly complimented them in three years. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


So nice to see you smiling. And I did enjoy the blog. However, as much as I am a mustang fan, I would hate to see you start reviewing cars. Just think what I COULD SAY about your van!!!!!



grumpy said...

i saw a late model Lotus the other day and i swear it looked like the Batmobile.

Anonymous said...

You don't understand. The function of a car has changed. IT is now an in-your-face urban assault vehicle. The Hummer started the trend. It's all about protecting NUMER UNO DOUCHEBAGO in a big blacked-out windows box of jazzy aggressive materials, and having the baddest-ass engine roar on the block as you race the little peckerhead next to you to the next red light. You are what you drive.

grumpy said...

driving in big cities can be a harrowing experience; i remember a year or so ago slowing down to parallel park on Sawtelle Blvd in West LA, and the lady (not) in the "urban assault vehicle" behind me blasting her horn and swearing at me, all the while talking on her cell phone; obviously i was making her late for something really important.