Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Vintage Volkswagens - Seattle Style

Over the last few years I've been hitting car shows regularly, usually with my 16 year old son in tow. We shoot a ton of photos and compare pics later, which turns out to be just another excuse for great father and son time. Nothing wrong with that I say. My son can also now kick my ass using Lightroom for editing. Kids are funny that way.

My gear head car interest is all over the map, but falls mainly on vintage cars. From Italian models from Ferrari, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo - to Porsche 911s and 914s - to Datsun Zs and 510s - and plenty of other examples. As the years go by, I have less interest in most new cars, the old stuff much more interesting. 

Mixed in with all this, include air cooled Volkswagens. I get a kick out of the VW scene, since it never seems to die. It just moves between generations morphing along the way - from perfectly restored vintage models to rusty rat rods, lifted off road rigs to slammed and cambered, patina to perfect - it's all there. Many different variation on the basic VW theme.

I've shot hundreds of VWs at various Seattle area events and awhile back started posting 'em to various VW Facebook pages, just for fun. What's the sense of having photos ferment on your hard drive? My take on things anyway.

Via my posting, one Facebook page contacted me, Bugbus.net, asking if I'd like to be an Admin on their page - meaning I can post whatever desired and it remains on the main Facebook feed. Bugbus.net is a European based classified site for vintage VWs and parts. No money involved with any of this for me, but they have sent me a logo hoodie and other goodies as thanks. I've posted a fair amount of VW photos on their site over the last two years, all good fun.

I also recently created a Instagram account to post my VW photos. Been interesting watching the followers slowly increase, though still laughably small compared to some accounts. If interested, you can find it searching Instagram for Vintage_VW_Spotter. There also a few Porsches included, the free bonus. Call now, operators are standing by.

Below are some examples of VWs floating around the Seattle area, just a taste of the creativity and local scene. Feel free to make up your own captions...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Late to the Party - Courtney Barnett

Always cool to discover new music - even in my advanced age - and even if you're a bit late to the party. While flipping through the TV channels recently, noticed Courtney Barnett on Austin City Limits. Thought it was pretty cool and watched the entire gig, noticing one of the songs I dug hearing on KEXP months earlier, but not knowing who it was. Turns out that was 'Pedestrian at Best', off her 'Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit' album.

Afterwards, did a little Google searching and found this earlier show recorded live by KEXP. What she's doing is cool - lyrics, song structure and guitar playing wise. Mixture of twangy alt rock, with some great energy infused.

I dig it, maybe you will too. Give it a go.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Doors Close, Doors Open

Break out the hammer and WD-40. Time to chip away the rust on this frozen blog and portion of my brain that allegedly enjoys writing. Listen closely and you can hear the cracking and groaning across the Internet, last post nearly a year ago. Life is busy, morphs and moves on.

After a series of misadventures, I find myself unemployed after 15 years with same company. Considering I wasn't exactly digging the last year or so, probably a good thing in the long run. Interviews and poking at possible jobs in progress, looking forward to something new. Having a few weeks off to clear the brain also not a bad result of this opportunity, though loss of income certainly a concern. Hopefully, something cool on the horizon.

On the bike front, been getting out sporadically on the 29er. At times solo, other times with my 16 year old son, the former semi-serious racer. Me on the now 5 year old bargain Sette hardtail that still works for old school me. With 80mm of fork travel and 72 degree head angle, outdated compared to modern trail oriented bikes currently on the market. Feel free to snicker at the 120mm stem and bar ends while you're at it. Son Ian piloting the Santa Cruz Bronson we picked up last summer, great bike and worth considering if you're so inclined.

To finish off this post on a cool note, pictured is a friend of my son with the vintage '97 Specialized FSR he purchased off us a few months ago. I picked it up from coworker pal quite awhile ago, thinking someone on my former junior high mountain bike team would be interested. That never happened and the bike collected dust in the garage.

After loaning the bike a few times to my son's pal to share rides, his dad came over and bought it for him. It's since been used almost daily, with occasional visits to the Stevens Pass mountain bike park. The kid is digging riding and that's all that really matters.

It doesn't matter what you ride, just ride.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ramones Soundcheck - Circa 1980

I've been the huge Ramones fan for decades and clumsily blabbered about it awhile back, so I'll spare you the history for now.

Recently while cruising YouTube, I rediscovered this little gem. Ramones soundcheck from Italy, circa 1980. I dig the informal nature of it all, folks milling about and yet it rocks. Johnny's awesome guitar tone and style in action. Close up view of Marky's drumming technique. Dee Dee warming up on bass. Joey looking awkward and cool at the same time, yet sounding fantastic.

The Ramones, R.I.P...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fat Chance Rebirth in Progress

As mentioned in various bicycle media and alluded to by me a few months back, Chris Chance relaunching Fat Chance bikes. And that is a cool story. I've said it before, if any old school mountain bike company was worthy of relaunch, Fat Chance would be it. Even years after its demise, a rabid cult following still exists. Now to see if actually possible.

Interesting to note that Chris Chance is doing this via a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. $116,000 requested to get Fat Chance afloat once again. With 18 days currently left, they've scored over $95,000 towards the goal. Amazing that amount accumulated with just 131 people signed on. Don't quote me on the numbers, they can change daily.

Some big bucks required to secure the first batch of new Yo Eddy frames. $2500 or $5000+ to be on the list, depending on the package. Seems crazy expensive for a steel frame, until you consider its not just about the frame, you're helping to bring back some cool mountain bike history and launch it into the modern age. For the not so well off, cheaper packages available for t-shirts and other goodies.

The modern Yo Eddy frame to feature 27.5 or 29er wheels, your choice. Trail oriented geometry, tapered head tube, 12x142 rear axle, and dropper post compatible. All in glorious steel and hopefully old school graphics. Exactly how spec'd it on their survey awhile back, along with a bunch of other folks I'm sure. Frames to be USA built and delivered this summer. Being the old school Fat fan, pushes all my correct buttons. Yes please.

Will I be scoring a frame myself? Fat chance, Bunky. Highly unlikely and not quite in the family budget. Maybe after the initial run and stock production goes into full swing, lowering the price. That be the dream anyway. I'll probably pony up for the $50 t-shirt and sticker pack anyway, to at least be part of it all.

I wish 'em all good luck and hope to see this be a successful venture.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking - Charlie Kelly

After reading about its release to the masses, I picked up a copy of Charlie Kelly's new book a few weeks ago. Upon arrival to the official Dan O estate, I quickly read through it as I'm usually disposed to do with a new book. Especially one about old school mountain biking. The book did not disappoint, well done indeed.

Recently during a rainy weekend, I pulled it off the bookshelf for a slower reread and ponder the historical photos also included at no extra charge. Call now, operators are standing by.

As you may or may not be aware, Charlie Kelly was a key player in what you and I now call "Mountain Biking". Yes, other folks also constructed similar bikes during that era - and even earlier - but Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, Joe BreezeTom Ritchey and others collaborated, created, and marketed what evolved into what the mountain bike scene is today. They are truly the founding fathers of the mountain bike movement.

And not to forget Wende Cragg, the godmother of mountain bikes. She was there riding with this gang and without her impressive collection of photographs, we wouldn't have the visual documentary of this bicycle revolution. Fantastic that she carried a camera during this early adventure.

Being the old school mountain biker myself - first mountain bike for me in 1984 - I was already familiar with story about the birth of it all. This through various articles and media over the years. Even so, this book being the best of 'em. Story of it all in chronological order through the eyes and words of Kelly himself. You couldn't ask for better tour guide.

Some of the other folks from that era have become a bit more famous and certainly more wealthily, via bike companies associated to them. When it comes down to it though, Kelly was also right there and perhaps the most collaborative of 'em all. From modifying Schwinn klunkers into early prototype mountain bikes, starting the first production mountain bike company, organizing the first downhill Repack mountain bike races and large scale organized rides, the creation of NORBA, to the first mountain bike publication - Fat Tire Flyer. The blueprint of mountain biking today.

Kelly truly defines the soul of mountain biking and his impact still resonates through the sport today. Check out this book and you'll see why. Highly recommended.

Match it up with this DVD and you'll become seriously schooled and perhaps nod your helmet in appreciation, next time you roll that modern long travel rig down your favorite trail.