Saturday, March 20, 2010

Curtis and Dixie - 1996 Chrysler Sebring

Curtis the PI  - copyright 2010 by Jeffery Blackwell



If you gotta ghost, you know who ya gonna call. But how do you know if you gotta ghost?

You call Curtis, who drives this intense red-on-black 1996 Chrysler Sebring.

"You're not haunted until I say you're haunted,” Curtis told me.




Curtis and Dixie 01 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





Photobucket





I first saw Curtis tooling down a country road with his dog, Dixie. I swear the dog was smiling at me.

Curtis pulled out behind me, so I pulled over and grabbed my camera, to get a shot of him and Dixie driving past. He pulled up short and turned down another side road, avoiding driving past me, and it seemed deliberate. I whipped around to follow him, and saw him pulling into a driveway ahead. I rolled by slowly, and as I did, he started to back up. I hauled around and headed back just as he was stopping at the end of the drive and our eyes locked. He suddenly backed out of the driveway and turned towards me, crowding over the road into my path. Still staring at each other, we both rolled to a stop, driver to driver.




Curtis and his American Bulldog - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell






“Hey, man I love your car,” I told him. He looked skeptical. “Can I take some pictures of it? I do this blog…” I launched into my elevator speech. It seemed even more important than usual to be disarming at this point.

Curtis responded, “I’ve had people report me to the SPCA because they think my dog is in danger, but she’s wearing a harness. She can’t fall out. When I saw you get out the camera…” Now he smiled. “Sure, you can take some pictures”, he said, “go back to the highway and take the first left, where you saw me pull out. Go down that road, and I’ll meet you in front of the cemetery.”

"That’ll be a great background, because I’m a Paranormal Investigator”. OK, now this is cool.





Cemetery Gates - copyright Jeffery Blackwell





At the cemetery, Curtis and I exchanged business cards (yes, he has business cards. If you want his phone number, just drop me an email.) Curtis uses the name Cemetery Gates Paranormal Investigation, and promises his service is discrete and confidential. He assured me he won’t roll up to your house in this car.

“Nine out of ten cases are just paranoia,” Curtis told me. “Those noises you here during the first night after moving into an old house? That’s the boiler. And when someone pulls out of that one driveway down the road, it’s that tree that casts a moving shadow on your window that looks like someone walking past.”





Curtis's car 01 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




I asked him about the tenth case. “Well, he said, I definitely believe in an afterlife.”


He showed me some photos on his cell phone that he had taken in a cemetery the other night. Standing in the sun, the screen was pretty hard to see, but there were a series of images he taken by the light of a million candlepower spotlight. (Yes, they make those. My dad had one.)

In the first image, beyond some headstones, the spotlight was bouncing back into the lens off of some shiny object. In the second, which appeared to be aligned closely with the first, the bright spot was replaced by – a black hole. As if something was now absorbing the light. The third image in the series showed a whisp of smoke or fog emanating from the hole. It was weird, all right.


I decided to return the questioning to this life, and asked Curtis about his car. “You really like it?” he asked. Everything I did to it, except the logo, was to cover up some dent or ding. Like here, where I hit a deer,” he said pointing to a dent underneath a sticker on the front fender. Curtis designs and makes some of these stickers himself. “The wheels were rusty, so I pained ‘em red.”





Hood - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



“I’m a natural born skeptic,” he told me. I’m perfect for this job, because I don’t believe anything until it’s right in my face. My fiancĂ©, now, she’s the sensitive one. She feels all kinds of stuff that you can’t see.”


Dixie - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




At this point Dixie indicated to Curtis that she had grown impatient with this unexpected interruption in her joyride, so we shook hands, and the two of them rolled off.




Curtis and Dixie roll off - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



All content copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell

www.jefferyblackwell.com

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hillbilly Chrome

Ducktape bumper 01 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



That’s what Gary called the ubiquitous silvery tape he used to reconstruct the rear bumper of his Dakota.

I have seen it labeled as both duct tape (tape for sealing ducts) and duck tape (for taping - ducks) Google shows that “duck tape” is by far the more popular term. (117,000 results to 932,000). So, as with all things in life, I will defer to Google.

(In the video production business, it’s called “gaffer’s tape” and in racing it is, of course, “racer’s tape”.)

Originally “gun tape” developed during the Second World War, the rubbery stuff was often used to make temporary repairs to Jeeps, and so Gary’s truck follows in that line.




Gary with ducktape bumper - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




It’s a 1998, and except for what’s left of the rear bumper, pretty solid. Here in the salt belt of the upper Midwest, “pretty solid” is a sympathetic way to describe the body of a vehicle that has withstood the ravages of rust without developing actual holes through the metal.

Gary applied what appears to be a good percentage of the roll of duck tape to the bumper to temporarily keep the thing from falling off. When it warms up, he intends to build a more substantial one from a couple of 4x8’s. You’ll notice that Gary, looking to avoid any safety concerns on the part of the authorities, even duck taped a small flashlight onto the duck tape bumper that shines on his license plate after dark. Of course, you have to remember to go back there and turn it on.




ducktape bumper with maglight flashlight - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Gary, as you might expect, turns out to be an interesting guy, and a man of diverse interests and talents. He is a stone mason, a skill I have long admired, building walls, fireplaces and such from mere rocks (presumably with mortar – not duck tape.) But that business has taken a big hit since the housing bust (“When you need a plumber, you need a plumber now.”), so he has another job working for the county.

In his past Gary was a forensic photographer, gathering evidence at crime scenes, specializing in arson cases. In fact, Gary developed a method of obtaining usable fingerprints off metal that has been exposed to flame and intense heat, which incinerates the oil that is exposed with ordinary fingerprint methods.

He and I talked about cameras for a while, his old Minolta XE-7 (a classic first generation electronic film camera), the exceptionally fine grain of Ilford black-and-white film, and the days of the darkroom.

Nice guy, Gary, and very solid. I hope I run into him again after he installs the wooden bumper.



ducktape bumper close up - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




All content copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell


www.jefferyblackwell.com

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicago Show Stopper: Lexus LFA

Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 01 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




There’s something about a car on a turntable. You could take my old Ford Focus, replete with dings and a fine crust of road salt, put it up on a rotating pedestal and people would stand and watch it go round.

If you put it on a canted, stainless steel turntable at about eye level and bathed it blue-white light, they might even desire it.





Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 02 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



Rule number one for displaying a car is to get it up off the floor. Cars are probably the heaviest objects that most people interact with on a daily basis, and the impact of seeing a car elevated always evokes a suspension of ordinary experience.

Making it rotate slowly on a turntable creates an aura of mystery that has long made the turntable a staple at Auto Shows, perhaps outnumbered only by the spokesmodel.








That said, this Lexus LFA “supercar” looked absolutely devastating on this canted, stainless steel turntable at the Chicago Auto Show, and I wanted it.

I have rarely seen a car that looks so fast and dangerous, even as it gently spins in silence.



Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 04 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Its lines and proportions are explicitly seductive, and it flaunts its carbon fiber undertray shamelessly.

In certain places its mechanicals were exposed giving it some menacing edges.

Its paint was so sheer you weren’t sure if you might be looking right through to the bare metal underneath.

Its surface seemed to be distressed just enough to make it look obtainable.


I stood and watched this car turn four or five times at about 1 RPM before I remembered to take some pictures.




Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 05 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 06 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 06 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 06 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Lexus LFA at 2010 Chicago Auto Show 07 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



All content copyright 2010 by Jeffery Blackwell

www.JefferyBlackwell.com

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chicago Auto Show - Part II

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing door - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



I really don’t have a lot to say about these images. They’re really just pretty pictures of cars and displays, with a few observations of the crowd mixed in. Some of the more hardcore stuff. Some of these I filtered pretty heavily just to make them more dramatic.

Gearheads, enjoy.

These first couple of photos are of the beautiful Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing. Luscious, I guess, is how I would describe it. Obviously an instant classic.




2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





BMW headlight - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




BMW wheeel - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





Chrysler display - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Always a crowd pleaser, the venerable Audi R8 made quite an impression in a gold metalflake paintjob. Phonecams were de rigor.




Boys with camera phones and Audi R8 - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Audi R8 side scoop - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Audi R8 detail - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





Audi R8 engine detail - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





Audi R8 taillight - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Ram Truck display - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Got to have something for the kiddies. Jeep brought little electric Charger models and the soggy yellow guy.




Kiddie cars at Jeep display - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell






Spongebob Squarepants draws a crowd - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Yes, there are people who will stand looking at a motor for quite a long time. I get it.




Volkswago engine display - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





VW engine detail - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Lots for the flannel shirt crowd and those who prefer a tux.




RAM truck admirers - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





Jaguar display - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Maybach hood ornament - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



And, of course, a few toys for the boys.




Viper display - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Viper wheels - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




Hot rod Lexus - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell





Mazda racer - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell




All in all, everyone seemed to be having a good time.




Boys messin' round - copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell



All content copyright 2010 Jeffery Blackwell


www.jefferyblackwell.com