Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thumpin' Bikes or Dance-Dance Pedal Revolutions


The New York Times has an article and slide-show up about the latest trend for Guyanese and Trinidadian youths in Queens, strapping ginormous stereo systems onto bikes, as in bicycles.

The bikes roar, but the booming sound has nothing to do with engines — because there are no engines. They are ordinary bicycles, not motorcycles, although these contraptions look and sound more like rolling D.J. booths. They are outfitted with elaborate stereo systems installed by the youths.

“This one puts out 5,000 watts and cost about $4,000,” said Nick Ragbir, 18, tinkering with his two-wheeled sound system, with its powerful amplifier, two 15-inch bass woofers and four midrange speakers. It plays music from his iPod and is powered by car batteries mounted on a sturdy motocross bike.

Man, I'm all for crazy custom jobs on vehicles that will "freak the mundanes," from custom paint to covering your car in AOL cds, but this one has got me head scratchin'. Still some of these set ups are kinda cool, and definitely the result of a lot of time and effort. Having just had a birthday, I'm going to try and keep seeing it that way... though my knee-jerk reaction is closer to that of my grandparents whenever one of those cars would roll-by with a stereo that registers on the Richter scale.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sample Steampunk Bike: The 1914 Aerothruster

This isn't what I planned to post next for Steampunk two-wheeler week, but it is just too cool and too weird to hold back. Plus it is too random for me to tax my brain, coming up with some contrived connection with the upcoming group.
The 1914 Aerothruster, a motor-assisted bicycle with a twist: the motor doesn't power the chain drive or wheel. Nope, that would be too obvious. The inventor in stroke of diabolical genius worthy of a comic book super-villain, decided to make the motor power a propeller that sits behind the rider!
Somehow this never took off... or should I say caught on... or well the fact that I can't come up with a ready expression for market acceptance that doesn't immediately invite death-trap puns, explains the obscurity of this contraption.
Still, if there was ever a vehicle designed to evoke quizzical looks, this is certainly it.
The title link will take you to a blog post on the bike with scans from a magazine article on the bike.
Thanks to Lady Vim on the Brass Goggles Forum

Two-Wheeled Time Machine Week


Since I started working at Vespa Ridgfield/Branchville Motors, I've realized my knowledge of the history of two-wheeled vehicles is sorely lacking. Similarly, I've been itching lately to do some artwork of Steampunky scooters and motorcycles, as I mentioned in a previous post.

The above image was lifted from a thread on Brass Goggles that discusses how Steampunk aesthetics seem to dovetail quite nicely with early and vintage two-wheeling. There have been some other threads on the quintessential Steampunk Forum on this overlap, and it's something that has been occupying my mind quite a bit recently. Retro-Futurism is a blade that cuts two ways, for it isn't simply nostalgia and kitsch, it is a kind of refractive looking forward. One looks ahead through a rearview mirror which is angled to reflect a mirror further back which looks forward.
(Are you still with me? Because I almost lost myself there...)
To continue the mirror- time/space metaphor, the refractive process of Steampunk imagining provides us a perspective in which our own position as well as the road ahead seem much smaller and distant. It allows us to view ourselves with an outsider's detachment, which is always useful. But perhaps more importantly, it grants us a vision of the larger vista in which we are placed. We are permitted to view where we are, were, and possibly will be all at once.

So, besides this strained metaphor of rear-view mirrors, what does Steampunk and Retro-Futurism have to do with cycling? Go to a motorcycle dealership, or flip through a motorcycling magazine and ask yourself that question. Break it down, "Retro" and "Futurism". I think you will find that the motorcycling world is rife with it. Currently available bikes can almost all be pigeonholed as vintage-evoking nostalgic day-dreams, and day-after-tomorrow techno-gadget wet-dreams. Many are trying to be both. This is especially true in the United States, where a motorcycle is much more of a fetish-object, than other parts of the world where they are practical daily transportation first, and their role as lifestyle accessory is secondary or tertiary, if it exists at all.

Whew... it's getting a little deep here. How about we just look at some bikes for a bit:

Above is a TRUE Steampunk two-wheeler,the Michaux-Perreaux Steam Bicycle. Built in Germany in 1868-1869, it was supposedly capable of 19mph. (You can also view a different, larger photo here.) This was actually a Velociped, as the pedals are fixed to the front wheels. That's right boys and girls, the first motorcycle was in fact, a Steampunk Moped. The Swarm-And-Destroy Moped Army kids will be serving up heaping helpings of crow-stuffed humble-pie to every Harley rider who ever ranted too long about the heritage of their hawg.

Coming in second (though some count it first) in the history of motorcycles is Stanley Roper's Steam Velocipede. Beautiful! This design is from 1869, and Roper continued tinkering with steam powered bikes right up to his death from a heart attack. And as was chronicled in this blog about a year ago, I mean RIGHT UP to his death.

Next we come to the first internal combustion engine powered two-wheeler. (Well, if you want to split hairs, I guess it did have two dinky training wheels on the sides.) Though fueled by gasoline, this four-stroke steed was steamy indeed, with its wooden frame and large brass gear. Built in 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler, the Reitwagen is considered by many to be the first "true motorcycle." Boy, one look at that seat explains why many bikers and scooterists still refer to them as saddles. Cool stuff.

All these previous bikes have the added Steampunk credentials of being experiments and prototypes, the products of mad inventors pushing the boundaries of the possible. The above design from Hildebrand & Wolfm├╝ller in 1894, has the distinction of being the first production motorcycle available to the general public.
Oops! Did I say "motorcycle"? That definitely looks like a step-through frame to me, which would make it... that's right, a scooter.
And what a scooter it was, with a two-cylinder, four stroke, water-cooled engine that weighed in at a staggering 1488cc's! Of course it didn't have a clutch and only generated slightly more than 2 horsepower. Still it marks quite a milestone in motorcycling history, and as it remains to my knowledge, the largest displacement scooter ever, quite a forgotten milestone in the history of scooting.
Yep, that's right kiddies, not only did Harley, son of David, not invent the motorcycle, but neither did Piaggio invent the scooter with his wasp-like beauty.
Next time we'll explore the boggling plethora of scooters which existed in that misty time before Vespa "invented" the scooter.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dragon Skins

Well I finally got around to making some t-shirt designs, which you can get online.
My favorite, so far is this Lambretta, which I think looks best as white ink on a black garment.
I predominately buy and wear black t-shirts, so while I'd been thinking about doing t-shirts online for awhile, I was stuck on finding a way to do quality prints on black shirts. I'd come across Spreadshirt sometime ago, who will allow you to do plot printed images on colored shirts, in addition to the digital prints which are more common. Digital prints are swell and all, but are delicate. I wanted to do the plot printing because it works better on dark garments, and holds up better to repeated wearing and washing. The problem was for this type of print they want a vector graphic file... ala Illustrator. While I'm something of a wiz with Photoshop, I just never successfully picked up Illustrator until recently.
Luckily that changed, when I discovered VectorMagic, a beta site put up by Stanford. It's an online tool which converts jpgs and other raster files to eps files, with all the paths and such ready to go in Illustrator. So I've been playing with this for the last week and a half, bouncing images between Photoshop, VectorMagic, and Illustrator. If like me, you're experienced with Photoshop but have been intimidated by Illustrator's learning curve, I recommend dinking around with VectorMagic, it really helped me transition into the different mindset, and allows you easily start with images you already have.


I'd been hoping to do a Honky-Tonk Dragon shirt, using some of the images I've already created. Unfortunately these are all comprised of many smooth gradients of gray, and require a lot of tweaking. The above image was the easiest to get transformed into something that would meet SpreadShirt's printing requirements. While I like the image in its original form, I'm not sure how I feel about this incarnation.
This last image (the above is the black-on-white version, it's also available white-on-black) is something I've been playing with for a few months. A version of it appeared in a dream as a kind of spontaneous graffiti glyph intended to guard against psychic warfare... Give me a break OK, it was a dream. Actually any dream where you turn the tide from being a nightmare by busting out a spontaneous spray-paint sigil is pretty good.
Anyway the image stuck with me, but I hadn't been able to satisfactorily capture it until now. I'm calling the design "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" after the great song by the old-school punk band X. Wear it and let the world know "evil to those, who evil think."

Stay tuned, I've got a few more designs in the works, scooter themed, steampunk themed, and hopefully even steampunk scooter themed. Till then check out my shop, Spreadshirt's cool, you can put these designs on different garments, change the color of the ink or even of what it's printed on. If you come up with a cool combination I've missed, let me know.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Catch the EV Bug... (VW Bug, that is...)

This is from a classified listing for a VW Beetle which has been converted to a full electric vehicle. As such, it's not really a step-by-step tutorial, but it is quite inspirational, and there is some good information in the listing:

Top speed 75 MPH, range 70 miles. New tires, new batteries, new seat covers and new brakes. The battery pack is 144 Volts, controller 600 Amps. Total acceleration power 86,400 Watts, with 0 to 40 MPH in 6 seconds.

Stinking Gas report;
11/11/07, San Jose, CA $3.49
My GMC Sierra pick-up has a 32 gallon tank, total cost to fill the tank is $112
Electric car distance for $112 of electricity is 5,600 miles.

Drive from San Francisco to NY and back for the cost of one tank of gas.

When the batteries run low, FREE charging stations can be found at many businesses including some Ralphs grocery stores, Costco stores and Hilton Hotels. Maps of FREE recharging locations, http://www.eaaev.org/eaaevcharging.html

Roll into the parking lot of Costco and pull up in front of two chargers. Bright green signs read "Electric Vehicle Parking Only." Nearly every Costco store has a pair of chargers in its lot, or plans to install them soon. The company is committed to creating an unbroken string of chargers up and down California for electric car drivers.

Some day we'll see a lot more of these:


via the Make! magazine blog

$10 DIY Passive Solar Room Heater

Life Hacker has an excellent little instructional video posted today on a DIY solar window heater. The vid details how you can turn a couple sheets of foamboard, some pennies, some flat black spray paint, and a sheet of plexi-glass into a unit that could save you $30 to $40 dollars a month on your heating costs.
The concepts are simple, and the construction looks like it could be managed by any child old enough to be trusted with a hobby knife and spray paint. I'm thinking seriously about trying to slap one of these together in the next few days, since our new house has oil heat, and I doubt the price of heating oil is dropping this winter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cool "Heroes" Themed Mock Vespa Ads

John Rana, over at Who Rides A Vespa, has created these cool faux-Vespa ads, ripping on Piaggio's recent Vespanomics campaign.
Being quite the "Heroes" fan myself, I think these are brilliant. Click the title link to see more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Scooterlife

So for the past few weeks I have been working at what has to be one of my dream-jobs. That's right, I'm working at a Vespa dealership! Vespa Ridgefield and Branchville Motors, which are two faces of the same Janus-like business, is where I'm spending my mornings. In addition to Vespas, we sell Triumphs and Moto-Guzzis, as well as the best selection of high-quality riding gear I've ever seen under one roof.
For now it's only part-time, but I'm really enjoying it, to say the least. It's a small locally owned dealership that is located within two cool old structures. The Vespas, Piaggio scooters, and gear are in an old wooden building, which was a house in it's original incarnation, and a specialty gun dealer prior to housing sweet Italian two-wheelers. The motorcycles and service area are in an awesome old stone building that looks like it was purpose built as a garage back in, well back whenever they first started building garages. The owner, Alex, has been selling vehicles here for some time, and the basement has all the parts you'd expect for the marques we carry, as well as a smattering of Royal Enfield, BMW, Indian, and even Whizzer parts!
Look at that, that's what I look at every day when I get to work!
(Sigh.)
We have a small crew down at the shop, and I'm really starting to like and respect these guys. After my last corporate job (which was so horrid, I don't think I ever mentioned it on this blog) it is so nice to go to work and associate with people who really care about what they are doing.
Jim, the guy I work with the most, has been selling bikes for over twenty years, and riding and racing longer than that. He is an amazing resource of knowledge, as well as having the best collection of cowboy boots, this side of the Mississippi.
Boy, look at that GTV... such a pretty scoot.
Don't get me wrong though... I'm certainly not drooling over over scooters all day. I'm drooling over Bonnevilles and Thruxtons. Seriously though, it is an interesting atmosphere to work in. Our customers tend to be very serious riders, not content with the view that Harleys are the end-all-be-all of the two-wheeler world, and not looking for the latest Japanese racing Sui-cycle. I'm beginning to understand why many Vespisti later go on to Bonnevilles, when they feel the need for greater displacement.
Speaking of the never ending biker's lust for more cc's and Triumphs, have you seen the Triumph Rocket III?
This monster is the largest production motorcycle in the world, with three cylinders weighing in at 2300 ccs! Um... yeah. It's definitely impressive, though not for me. I mean I still feel quilty for lusting after the upcoming Piaggio MP3 500. IllNoise, over at 2Stroke Buzz recently posted a video on this bike, that looks like it was produced by Monty Python for Triumph. I guess over the top British humor is the only way to promote over the top British engineering.

But the coolest thing, from this anachronistic countrified reptilian scooterist's perspective about this job, is that I work with the fine gentleman pictured above. I'd seen this picture on the BBS or on Scoot.net some time ago, never thought I'd meet this guy. He's Larry of the Checkered Demon S.C., and he's a scooter mechanic where I work.
Though we normally work in different buildings, one morning he comes into the wooden building and asks Jim, "What's the story with that crazy Woody Vespa in the back?"
After the obligatory exchange of info about scooters ridden and owned, I discover that Demon Larry is about as old-skool a scooterist as I've ever met. Heck, his wedding to his lovely wife Sam is listed as a rally in the gallery section of Scoot.net.
Anyway, Larry told me that Jes and I "just had" to go this party for the folks who organized the most recent Gotham Rally, that was coming up. Well, long story short, once we found out that there would be an open bar and go-go dancers, we reckoned it just might be worth the trip into mean old NYC, to meet some fellow scooterists in the area.

So after much studying of train schedules and subway charts, we ventured off into Babylon. Now some of you may be thinking that the Dragon, whose scientific name is Dragonis Rusticus, might have been like the country mouse venturing into city mouse territory. Well, I'll inform you if you didn't already know, I've lived on the streets of N'awlins as mohawked punk, wandered the projects of Lil' Rok back when it had the highest murder rate per capita in these here United States, and even eatin' dangerous looking patty-melts at Norms. Still despite living in some tough areas, having had a gun or two pointed in my face, and even sharing a one room apartment with not one, but two of the owners of Last Word Books, I will admit, I was a little intimidated by the thought of my first trip to NYC. And the Lower East Side, on top of that.
These hesitations vaporized once we got off of that last subway car and emerged on East Houston. 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in New York City. Neon, bustling people of more ethnicities than you ever thought existed, traffic like crazy, and taxi drivers illustrating that smallest quanta of empirically measurable time is the interval between the light changing and cabbie hitting the horn. That's right, baby, the night life ain't no good life, but it's MY LIFE.

After a few blocks of of extreme urban sensory overload, we reached our destination, the Parkside Lounge. The scene was just about what we expected, loud, cramped, and sweaty. Luckily Larry and Sam where right near the door, and so were easily found. We met a lot of cool folks, and I must say felt right at home with the NYC scooter scene, and Lower East Side bar scene. I guess hipster drunks really are the same, wherever you go.
I don't know how much of the party is really appropriate to report with these pixels, but as you can see above there were some loverly scoots in attendance.
I spent a lot of the night chatting with yet another fella named Larry, who was the sole Rocker in attendance. He showed up on this great 1973 Honda 350, which he informed me was the highest selling cycle in the states, back in its day. He'd heard about the gathering on NYCVINMOTO.com , a site I'll be investigating in the coming days. We had a great conversation about smaller displacement motorcycles, scooters, and the principles of appropriate technology as they apply to personal transportation. Larry also happened to to be a Reed Alumnus, so we discussed West Coast liberal arts colleges (emphasis on the Liberal), and the classic Eastside vs. Westside conflict.

Of course, as all good things must, the night had to end eventually, and the bell started tolling as we neared the deadline to catch the last train to CT. Sam and Larry let us know that they could hook us up with a place to stay in the city, but Jes thought it best to head home. I was torn between the angel on one shoulder, advocating shooting a homeward azimuth, and a devil on the other whispering, "but there's free booze and go-go dancers here!" Luckily, the angel and my sweetie's wisdom won out over diabolical influences, and we hoofed it back to the subway.

So after all that, I will leave you with your notion of Zen for the day:
"If you meet Jack Kerouac on the road, kill him."

Akira Kurosawa Online

Some kind soul just posted a link on Reddit to the Internet Archive, with the info that many of Kurosawa's films can be found here. I'm not sure about "many", so far I've only found about four, but that's still info worth sharing.

To Live
Rashomon

They Who Step On the Tiger's Tail

Sugata Sanshiro

Stray Dog

Cardboard Lambretta

British artist Chris Gilmour creates some amazing assemblages/sculptures from cardboard boxes. You'll have to side-scroll through the title link to get to this tricked out Lammy, but it's definitely worth it. There is another image of a Lambretta with out the encrustations of simulated Mod bling, which has a cowl taken off and the engine and tanks crafted out of paste-board. Pretty impressive stuff.

via Neatorama.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Art and Commerce

I promised some scooter photos a couple days back, so here you go...

Actually, fulfilling that pledge is only a secondary purpose of this post. The real motive behind this post is to notify the world that I now have a small select group of fine art prints available for purchase at Imagekind.
And by small I mean, um... three.
For the past week or so, I've been distracted from my usual quirky, snarky blogging duties, by a personal experiment in the abomination of intellectual endeavor which is trying to marry art and commerce.
I've known way too many extremely talented individuals who steadfastly believed that trying to make a buck off of their creativity was a lost cause, and thus exiled themselves to the service industry. Seriously, for every waiter who wants to act, there is a Van Gogh busing the tables after them. And as much as I am prone to argue with these folks, and at least try and encourage them to SHOW other people their work, I am a crappy example. Sure I spent several years hawking paintings in group shows, and small exhibits in coffee houses and bistros, but I've let defeat and apathy get the best of me. I haven't made a serious effort to show and sell my work for sometime, cordoning myself off from the world in a labyrinth of rationalizations and self-pity.
Anyway, lately I've been trying to hack my way out of that maze. I haven't made as much progress as I might like, but I do have a few things to show for the struggle. Like the above digitally edited photo of an extremely Mod Modern Vespa , taken at AmeriVespa in Seattle this past summer.



Also available are prints of this image, called Goldmund's Gaze. It is a highly digitally edited image of a painted collage I did a few years back in a fitful rage of creativity after reading Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse. The original is currently in the collection of Ben Coffraw.




And last but not least, prints are finally available of this painting of Fudo Myo, or Acalanthara Vidya Raja. More simply called Demon Buddha, I finished this painting (still one of my favorites) in 1994. It was featured in the 40th annual Delta regional exhibit in 1995. Since 1996 or so, it has been in the private collection of a thief.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Two Gallants - Despite What You've Been Told

Well, whaddayaknow, there is some justice in the world after all...

I was prowling Youtube, on a totally unrelated blogging-mission, and just happened to notice that the Gallants were the tops of the Tube's featured videos.


Great video for a great song.
It's really nice to see these two guys getting the attention they so rightly deserve. Here's to hoping fame doesn't water down their poignant self-loathing, it's better than whiskey for helping a grown man cry.

Mod Scooter Paintings

If you are in Palm Springs anytime in the next month, you might want to check out the show of paintings by Chris Reccardi at the M Modern Gallery. His paintings explode with the bright Space-Age colors of 60s movie titles, and feature not a few scooters and scooterists.
For those who might be able to make a trip to So Cal for an art show, you can see many of Reccardi's images here. There is even a painting with a decidedly Steampunk vibe...

thanks to bOINGbOING

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Howtoons

I just ran across a link to these guys over on the Make! Blog, and oh Buddy! is this some cool stuff.
Neat, educational, and fun projects for kids of all ages, in a format kids of all ages can appreciate: Cartoons.
Fer instance, Pen Pal, is some groovy sequential art which rewards the reader with all the knowledge they need to make their own paper and ink, and cut a quill for a traditional dip pen. Now if that ain't fodder for a rewarding rainy afternoon with your own favorite hatchlings, I don't know what is.
If'n you are of the inclination to prod your progeny in a more steampunky direction, you might try making the Soda Bottle Submarine, teach them some principles of buoyancy and push the little megalomaniacs closer to being Captain Nemos in training. I know a certain book-pirate on the West Coast, whose twins would love this.
That's right folks, why sit back and complain that all kids want anymore are ipods and gameboys, if you don't encourage them to make their own fun?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yet Another Steampunk Scooter

Came across this pic in a thread on the Brass Goggles Forum about the Steamy side of the most recent Burning Man. It was taken by the notorious Mr. Johnny Payphone. If you have some time to kill, and are interested in just how punk steam can be, you could do a lot worse than perusing some of his posts on that aforementioned forum...

Retro-Futurist Art Scooter

Found object sculptor Nemo Gould is creating an awesome art scooter out of an 80's Honda Elite, street lamp covers, and old metal vacuum cleaner bodies. Most folks would call it Steampunk, but it might technically be more Dieselpunk. In any case this thing is fan-freaking-tastic!
It's still a work in progress, but you can check out the first stages here.
And with a little more work on it.

Heck while you are at it, check out his portfolio, there's a bunch of cool Steam/Diesel Punk sculpture there, including lotsa squids and robots. And I mean c'mon, who doesn't like squids and robots?

Thanks to Oscillator, on Modern Vespa

The Dragon's got Style... (for an Old Man!)

Like usual, I was checking out the Modern Vespa Forum today, and I came across this thread by IFixJets.
Mr. Jets, had posted a link to a Scooter Style blog, wondering if anyone had seen it.
While I had checked out the blog in question, it had been some time. So I'm scrolling through, and I found the post which the title link will take you to.

This is a terrific example of minimalist scooter aesthetics. Old and new form a convincing whole. The vintage Vespa (an eighties rally, according to matt) and goggles, and the black helmet go great together with a new Corazzo jacket. Thumbs up for savvy styling!

The thumbnail picture looks kinda familiar...so I click it and it takes me to a Flickr page...



Yup, that's the Dragon, on Jes's Sprint... and while Scooter Rider Styling gives me thumb up for fashion sense, the photographer's comments on the pic are "Old man on his Vespa scooter."

Hmmmm....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

That's How the Yodel was Born

The Roy and Dale sign-off link on that last post, made yer humble Dragon all nostalgic for some good old-timey cowboy music, the kind of fever that not even cow-bell can cure.
No sir, there is only one cure for an old-school cowboy music fever, and that is Three on Trail.
So here they are explaining the origin of the yodel:



I first saw these guys at Prescott College in Arizona, when they were touring with their first album Three on the Trail. Somewhere in storage, I still have a signed poster from that night. Man, that was like 25 years ago, and Too Slim's mustache was still fully colored. Since then, they've added the accordian, had a Saturday morning kids show, and a slew of albums. But really they haven't changed a bit. I think they are even still using the same jokes...

And on that subject, I bring you the Riders' latest press release, announcing their solidarity with the Writer's Strike:

Riders Declare Solidarity with Writers, Vow No New Jokes

Riders In The Sky announced today "full solidarity" with the ongoing entertainment writers' strike, vowing no new jokes or routines "until our latte lappin' punchline partners out there in L.A. are free to fire up their laptops and earn a fair ancillary wage."

"I can't go out there and walk the picket line," said Riders funnyman Too Slim, "but I can tell old jokes."

"He certainly can," agreed Riders fiddler Woody Paul. "Some of his jokes must be twenty five, thirty years old. That face-playing routine is eligible for Social Security."

"Yes, yes it is," added Ranger Doug. "But as a union organization, I think it's important for us not to cross a picket line, even if it's only imaginary. If people think they'll get fresh comedy just by coming to our show, that could undermine the strike."

"What about the Milton Berle jokebook in the back of the bus?" suggested Joey, the Cowpolka King. "Can't we just steal some one-liners or limericks from that?"

"Technically yes," answered the Ranger. "In a way, they ARE reruns. But splitting hairs, seeking loopholes and ignoring an underlying issue's true spirit is certainly not..." and he turned his face toward the setting sun, "The Cowboy Way."

"It's a shame," concluded Too Slim. "I was making some real progress on the turtle joke. I was hoping to have it ready by '09. Oh well. Can I at least end this story with a clever riposte?"

"Nope," answered the Ranger. "Just let it trail off into


Heh, heh, heh...
Till next time folks, remember if this was a logical world, men would ride side-saddle.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cowboys' Ten Commandments

Mark Frauenfelder has a post up on bOINGbOING about a recently uncovered Mafiosos' Ten Commandments. Eh, that's mildly interesting, more illuminating though, is that he contrasts it with Gene Autry's Ten Commandments for Cowpokes:

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man or take an unfair advantage.

2. A Cowboy must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

3. A Cowboy must always tell the truth.

4. A Cowboy must be gentle with children, the elderly and small animals.

5. A Cowboy must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant views and ideas.

6. A Cowboy must help people in distress.

7. A Cowboy must be a good worker.

8. A Cowboy must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.

9. A Cowboy must respect women, parents and his nation's views.

10. A Cowboy is a patriot.

Something to shoot for, I reckon.
Of course to continue the compare and contrast, I offer you what might be seen as the downside of emulating cowpunchers, via Willie Nelson:

Cowboys ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold
And they'd rather give you a song then diamonds or gold
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded Levi's each night begins a new day
And if you don't understand him and he don't die young
He'll probly just ride away...

Cowboys like smokey old pool rooms and clear mountain mornin's
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night
And them that don't know him won't like him
And them that do sometimes won't know how to take him
He ain't wrong he's just different
but his pride won't let him do things to make you think he's right

Of course, to quote ol' Willie one more time:

I grew up a-dreamin' of bein' a cowboy,
and Lovin' the cowboy ways.
Pursuin' the life of my high-ridin' heroes,
I burned up my childhood days.
I learned of all the rules of the modern-day drifter,
Don't you hold on to nothin' too long.
Just take what you need from the ladies, then leave them,
With the words of a sad country song.
My heroes have always been cowboys.
And they still are, it seems.
Sadly, in search of, but one step in back of,
Themselves and their slow-movin' dreams.

Till next time, Happy Trails, pardners...

New Life in New England


So, I realize that I haven't said much about the Dragon's new environs. Since I spend much of my life with my feet firmly planted in my slobbery maw, I haven't wanted to go off half-cocked. As a dyed-in-the-denim westerner, I'm still getting my bearings amongst the yankees.
I have been doing some scooting, and am rapidly moving from the phase of familiarizing myself with winding, hilly, country roads, to enjoying the heck outta the adventures they promise. Cliches such as quaint and picturesque spring readily to mind in this setting. While I have been really tempted to do some Scooter in the Sticks style photo documentation, I'm still a little overwhelmed with all the potential photo-ops. As you can see above, though, Quell does look right at home in the Autumnal landscape, especially with the ubiquitous stone walls we have out here. I swear those walls make every landscape look like Hobbiton.
I have been working part-time at Branchville Motors, a local dealer in Vespas, Piaggios, Triumphs, and Moto-Guzzis. If you couldn't have guessed, this is like a dream-job for me. As a bonus to being surrounded by magnificient examples of two-wheeled engineering, the shop has the best selection of cycling gear I've ever seen.
Quell has finally passed the 800 mile engine-break-in period, and is performing better than ever. He also has the benefit of his own stable which you can see in the background of this photo.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Some Photos From the Dragon's Archives

So yesterday I promised to post some photos I've come across whilst assembling my portfolio. And for once, I'm not a day late, just a dollar short.

For starters we'll do a coast-to-coast, waterfront theme.
Here are a couple of my favorite shots of Puget Sound's Mud Bay, near our old place in Olympia.




And here are a few shots from Ocompo beach in Westport, CT, looking into Long Island Sound.





Coming soon, portraits, digital abominations, and of course scooters.

A Ska Scout is Tolerant, Energetic, Playful, and CLEAN

Wow!
Illnoise over at 2Strokebuzz posted this today:

I have this whole rant about how parents today think they’re so badass and hip and enlightened, when they’re really just forcing their embarassingly lame 20-year-old values on their poor kids just like every other parent before them (They Might Be Giants and IKEA are actually several notches down the hip scale from Shel Silverstein and avocado-colored appliahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifnces). But today I’ll spare you that lecture and pretend it’s cool that my Debbie-Harry-obsessed daughter watches a kids’ show that runs stuff like this.

While this is only peripherally scooter related (there's a scoot-toy to be seen hiding in the messy room), this really made my day. The cartoon hits Ska nail on the head, and as 2Stroke is trying to say, does it with a useful message, and without watering it down. "Pickitup, Pickitup, Pickitup" as a cheerful admonition for neatness in kids is just genius. This song will be my new cleaning-day mantra, and probably the bane of any children I may have.

Pirate Papa, you gots to check this out!

The Slits

Pardner, there ain't no school like the old skool.

The older this old drake gets, the more I feel I's got to explain what Punk really is to young'uns.
I mean, shiznit, tadpole, Siouxe Sue, the Cure, and the Violent Femmes were all considered Punk back in the day. It's got a lot more to do with attitude than it does with noise and decibels.
And if you wanna talk about iconoclastic, long-lasting, STILL ahead of their time, ol' skool punkers... well you'd be hard pressed to come up with a better example than the Slits.





Online Videos by Veoh.com



Honky-Tonk Dragon says check 'em out

Monday, November 05, 2007

On a Personal Note

So I realize that in addition to infrequent and irregular posting before and after the New England move, updated info on how Jes and I are doing has been in short supply.
Hopefully in the next few days I'll be rectifying that situation.
For now, though a short status report will have to do.
The two of us are still searching for full-time employment; for the time being Jes is acting as a personal assistant for a friend's mother, and I've been doing a part-time gig at Vespa Ridgefield. This past weekend we finished, for the most part, unpacking and decorating our house, and it looks pretty dang good, if I do say so myself. We have been very blessed with gifts and bargains in the areas of furniture and housewares, and want to publicly thank all of our benefactors... you know who you are!
Anyway, as I've been applying for jobs, I've been forced to start organizing and consolidating the flotsam and jetsam of a lifetime spent inadequately pursuing the muse. Many of these images, I've inflicted upon the Dragon's faithful reader's in the past. A few I have not, or have been significantly updated since then.
So, here then for your edification are a few new examples of the the Dragon's visual transgressions against good taste.

First, a self-portrait of the Dragon, which is still a work in progress...


Next an image from the never-ending graphic novel project which was the original impetus for this blog...


Another image from the same project...


No it's not an homage to Led Zeplin, you stoner, it's Icarus...


This was a large diptych in oil, which is now in a private collection...


And finally, this last piece is a portrait of my buddy Mage. This was intended to be a present to him, but is now unfortunately in the private collection of a thief.

coming up soon, some excerpts from my photographic portfolio, including some arty new scooter pics. Stay tuned.

Oh and if you wish to view this portfolio of paintings and drawings in full, you can do so here.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

ScootStars Finish Coast-to-Coast Trip

In dealing with my own coast-to-coast trip, I'd almost forgotten the ScootStars and their transcontinental voyage on 50cc scoots.

This here is their last vid, but if you haven't already, I'd recommend watching the whole gnarly saga. At the very least to warn you away from $800 Chinese scoots.



A tip of the Stetson to Pete (who finished the last leg of the trip solo) and Josh. Congratulations boys! Hope you keep up the scooting!

The Smart Car's Grandpappy

After that cool peek of the new Smart Car, provided by the Scooter Scoop, I figured some of you might be interested in small scale personal transportation with decidedly more retro styling....

Folks, the Peel P50, circa 1963

The Scooter Scoop Test Drives the Smart Car



In the latest episode of The Scooter Scoop TV, Steve Guzman has a test drive in the new Smart Car. Pretty neat stuff, and Steve asks all the questions I'd had about this vehicle.