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¡ VIVA McQUEEN ! ~ “I Live for Myself & I Answer to Nobody” • 1930 -1980


L.A. Commuter Steve McQueen ~ RHD Jaquar XKSS, 1963

A MotorSport Icon 30 Years On Today,

Steve McQueen was a Racer First

& an Actor Second ~


Prepping for a Desert Race in the Mojave with the Ekins Boys ~ 1964

His Early Life & Career Closely Resembled that of His Contemporary, James Dean. Both were from Indiana, Steve McQueen born in 1930 and Dean one year later. They both had unstable childhoods, no doubt shaping their Early Formative Rebel Tendencies. McQueen & Dean like him would both Migrate to New York, Restlessly Searching for a Creative Freedom that would ultimately propel them Both to Iconic Timeless Stardom. And Both of Them would Embrace a Need for Speed ~ However that is Where the Parallels End, as Time would prove McQueen the Far More Gifted in MotorSport ~

Lotus 11 owner McQueen in the Pits ~ Santa Barbara Road Races, 1959

What Defines True Style ?

The Thing was….he Really didn’t Care. I would see him from Time to Time. At Saddleback Park, with his Husqvarna 400, and his son Chad, my age. Pretty much just another couple guys out to Traverse the same Trails & Track just like Me & My Dad 10 feet away in the Same Dirt Parking Lot. At the Now Gone Forever Ascot Park in Gardena, racing with a bunch of other Guys in some immediately to be Forgotten Dune Buggy Heat Race. The Same Guy who was STEVE McQUEEN on the BIG SCREEN was just another guy Shooting the Shit in the Pit, relaxed and Laid-Back California Style in his Personal Life…

McQueen & 2 Puch Factory Works MotoCross Team riders ~ Saddleback Park, 1973

He had a Great Lady in his Life as well, his wife Neile. She had been a Successful New York Stage and minor Screen Actor when they met in the ‘Fifties, and as they say,

Behind Every Great Man is a Woman ~

She Nurtured him, Smoothed his Bruised Bank Account & Ego when he was Starting out, bought him Bikes, Paid his Rent, didn’t Hassle Him for Being Steve. Looked the Other Way for a Long Time. And it Paid Off for Many Years, at least until his Star got So Bright it Eclipsed them Together ~ a Lesson in there, Somewhere…

The McQueens Decompress at Home ~ Palm Springs, mid 1960s

Lovely McQueen Ladies ~ Steve & Neile McQ Road Trip with their Stunning ’63 Ferrari Lusso, Carmel 1967

In so Many Ways what often makes an Icon is not the Star Machine, The Media, the Hype. Certain People just Know How to Live ~ to Get the Most Out of Life, to Go Balls Out as they say and Keep it in their Minds that

You Only Go Around Once ~

In It to Win It ~ McQueen & Husqvarna 400WR • Elsinore Grand Prix, 1970

& Work to Live, not Live to Work ~

 

And So he Lived his Life ~

Working to Live rather than the Other Way ‘Round, which in The End perhaps is Really All that Matters. I was Lucky Enough to have Grown Up in a California Lifestyle in an Epic Era Exposed to MotorSport, Riding that Same Husqvarna ~ with an Endless Thanks to & having Lost My Own Main Man & Mentor for whom these Stories are Dedicated, to the same Mesthelioma that killed McQueen. His Legacy and Today have a Special Personal Meaning to me. There are men and there are Men.

You Only Get One Shot ~

Keep the Hammer Down.


Big Brother, Cellular Technology & Social Media Invade California ~ 1946



In the Fall of 1946 ~ All Was Quiet in the Los Angeles Sleepy Hamlet Suburb of Mar Vista…

Dateline : Los Angeles, 1946 • (F deC Science & Technology Dept.)

After Enduring 4 Years of Seemingly Endless War & Toil Overseas in the Armed Services, Aircraft Factories and Shipyards, Los Angelenos were Sleeping In. After All, They Deserved It. Times were Good. What with the Local L.A. Economy Flush after a Never-Ending Stream of Defense Contracts, a Down-Winding Military Machine after a Monstrous WorldWide Buildup & Murderous Mayhem, G.I. Bills & Bobs were literally Paving the Way for a Whole New Suburbia Soon to Come and A Baby Boom on its way. Californians were Chilled Out…

But Not Everyone. Some were Still Hard at Work, Experimenting and Analyzing…Being Quiet Out There

Captured Nazi WWII 'Flying Wing' being 'analyzed', preceding the U.S. F-117 'Stealth Fighter' by 50 years. Muroc AFB 1946

Muroc AFB ~ Birthplace of Stealth Technology • Rosamond Dry Lake, Mojave 1940’s

What’s he building in there?
What the hell is he building
In there?
He has subscriptions to those
Magazines… He never
Waves when he goes by
He’s hiding something from
The rest of us… He’s all
To himself… I think I know
Why… He took down the
Tire swing from the Peppertree
He has no children of his
Own you see… He has no dog
And he has no friends and
His lawn is dying… and
What about all those packages
He sends. What’s he building in there?
With that hook light
On the stairs. What’s he building
In there… I’ll tell you one thing
He’s not building a playhouse for
The children what’s he building
In there?

Tom Waits • “What’s he Building in There ?” 1989


Double Agent ~

Beautiful but Deadly Mata Hari

During World War I, the Netherlands remained neutral. As a Dutch subject, Margaretha Zelle was thus able to cross national borders freely. To avoid the battlefields, she travelled between France and the Netherlands via Spain and Britain, and her movements inevitably attracted attention. She was a courtesan to many high-ranking allied military officers during this time.[citation needed] On one occasion, when interviewed by British intelligence officers, she admitted to working as an agent for French military intelligence, although the latter would not confirm her story. It is unclear if she lied on this occasion, believing the story made her sound more intriguing, or if French authorities were using her in such a way, but would not acknowledge her due to the embarrassment and international backlash it could cause.

In January 1917, the German military attaché in Madrid transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the helpful activities of a German spy, code-named H-21. French intelligence agents intercepted the messages and, from the information they contained, identified H-21 as Mata Hari. Unusually, the messages were in a code that German intelligence knew had already been broken by the French, leaving some historians to suspect that the messages were contrived.

The Equally Exotic Garbo as Mata Hari ~ 1931

On 13 February 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her room at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris. She was put on trial, accused of spying for Germany and consequently causing the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. She was found guilty and was executed by firing squad on 15 October 1917, at the age of 41.

The facts of the case remain vague, because the official case documents regarding the execution were sealed for 100 years, although, in 1985, biographer Russell Warren Howe managed to convince the French Minister of National Defense to break open the file, about 32 years early. It was revealed that Mata Hari was innocent of her charges of espionage ~

Howard Hughes ~ The Original California Big Brother… He’s Got The Goods on You.

Legendary Lurker Howard Hughes surely Goes Down as the Ultimate California Big Brother, Spying on Everyone in (and Out of) Sight, including The Guys who were ‘Supposed’ to be Doing the Spying, the FBI and early predecessor to the CIA, Office of Strategic Services, the OSS. In fact, they were Unwittingly Paying Him to Do So. Hughes’ XF-11 was a Reconnaissance- Spy Plane. The Twin-boom, high wing Monoplane Designed by Big Brother HH and manufactured by (who else?) Hughes Aircraft Company in Culver City. Because of the A-Bomb, the need was ‘Greater than Ever’ to know what other countries were Up To. The United States Government contracted Howard Hughes to build a High-Altitude Spy Plane that could go above radar with a special camera using newly developed fine grain film. In True California Stranger than Fiction Fashion ~ HH Managed to spend all that Big Government Contract Money only to Crash Into a Lovely Pair of Spanish Revival Homes in Beverly Hills.

Setting the Neighbourhood Ablaze, California Style… in Beverly Hills.

Crash of the XF 11- Nice One Howard, Welcome to My Beverly Hills Nightmare.

In Typical Hughesian No Harm No Foul Logic ~ The Ever-Elusive Mr. Hughes simply Escaped to The Confines of his Creepy Concrete Deco Compound & Secret Starlet Laboratory at 7000 Romaine Street in Los Angeleez, to Continue his Secret Spying Ways on Everyone, Especially Every Sweet Young Thing that Crossed his Creepy Crescent Heights at Sunset Path….

I Hear Ya Knockin’, But You Can’t Come in ~

Howard Hughes' HeadQuarters & House of Horrors ~ 7000 Romaine Street, L.A.

Hmmm…Lots of Electronics & Phony Telephonics Going On in there. As We Have All Come to Know , Thanks to Mssrs. DeCaprio & Scorcese, The Aviator Hughes was Up to All Kinds of Shady Shenanigans, Hollywood Style. And he Taught A Lot of Other Corporate Communicados How to Do Just That…

Dick Tracy & Wrist Radio ~ Now with Android GPS , IM & Unlimited Text

There’s something Awfully Familiar about the Dick Tracy Wrist Radio every Kid Had to Have in 1946…

On January 13, 1946  Comic Strip Creator Chester Gould changed Dick Tracy forever with the introduction of the 2-Way Wrist Radio, having drawn inspiration from a visit to inventor Al Gross. This Compact Communications Device, worn as a wristwatch by Detective Tracy and Members of the Police Force, became one of the strip’s most immediately recognizable icons,and can be thought of as a Precursor to Later Technological Developments,

Such as that iPhone InYour Face, you know, the one Connected to BlueTooth, Twitter, Tattler, TMZ, TCM, e-mail, IM, Chat This-and That, FaceBook GPS & BIG BROTHER.

Early Facebookers Lucy & Ethel Log On ~ 1956

Did America’s Obsession with that Oblong Oval Glowing in their Living Rooms actually Hook Them Up to an Early Form of GPS ? Maybe They were Skype-ing Us and We Didn’t Even Know It.

Poor George Jetson, Hassled & Micro-Managed by Maniacal Boss Cosmos Spacely, while he’s Really Supposed to be Working, Being Busted Web-Surfing Again…

Meanwhile, Ms. Judy Jetson is At Home in her Stylish Modern Living Room Logging On & Video-Chatting with Wilma Flintstone (who is still on DSL) about Girls Night Out ~

So Thanks for Coming Around & Logging On, But Remember,

Even Federico Knows When You’ve Been Here….

 

Cool Under Fire ~ 2 Inspiring Accomplished Guys & 175,000 Friends ~ 2012


There are 2 Esteemed California Boys, both Associates & Friends that have Given Me A Lot & all you who have Chosen to Read along, All 175,000 of You, in Australia, Austria, Brazil, The Cayman Islands, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, The U.S., & Sri Lanka…Inspiring People These Two Have Been for me & Hopefully for You As Well…

Of Course I, like Any Californian worth Their Salt ~ knew of him.

Some Time Many California Light Years Ago, at the Beginning of Federico’s career, he was in an elevator at a Big California Clothing Expo. Around 1985 or so. The Door Opened and in walks this Dude who was well, Electric. And All these Other Dudes & Hot Surf Chicks are Checking Him Out, throwing out Surf Mags for him to Autograph, old school Instamatics Going Off.  So I tried to Be Cool. He’s got that Vibe, that this is his Brief Respite from being ‘Shaun Tomson’. And as Soon as That Door Opens, Back At It ~ kind of A Celebrity Chilling for a Moment. And Then he was Gone.

Flash Forward 20 Years ~

As a Graphic Designer who chooses to Live In ~ as they say, a ‘Small Market’, Federico often Finds Himself Hustling for Work. So at one point there’s a very, very short, briefest of brief work-for-hire listing for someone of my Particular Skillsets. I Drop Round for a Visit to meet Surf Star Royalty Shaun & Ms. Tomson at their Clothing Biz Office. There he is ~ Same Dazzling Dude from the Eighties Elevator with an Equally Dazzling Wife. Federico is given a Project Brief and and is Off on His Way to Do His Thing. Then I’m Back. and Back Again. Pretty Soon I’m just There All.The.Time. Working at the Surf Star Clothing Biz. Which Was Cool and Challenging and Pressure-Tested Creativity. Designing and Making Stylish Pressure-Tested Surf-Inspired California Casual Couture ~

And How Is he Inspirational, Federico? Because, other than the Great Hawai’ian Duke Kahanamoku, Shaun Tomson is the Greatest Ambassador of his Sport? Dude- Because he’s the Gnarliest Tube Rider Ever? No.

Shaun Tomson defines Cool Under Fire.

Whether facing a Wall at Backdoor Pipeline

or a Wall of invoices or orders, Adventure or Adversity,

Travel, Trials or Tragedy.

He’s a Great Husband ~ Married to The Same Ms. Tomson for Many Years. A Great Dad No Matter What Goes Down ~ and Just a Straight-Up Nice Guy. With Style, Grace, Charm, Intelligence & Eloquence. Successful Designer, Writer, Film-Maker, California Renaissance Man. Surfer. ST Handles It.

On The Wet Road to World Champion ~ Shaun Tomson on the North Shore 1974-75

South Afrikaner Surf Star Shaun Showing Off his Seventies Spider-Web Quiver

Live+Work ~ Robin Donaldson AIA

Most of Us ~ At the end of Our California Day, think about What We did That Day. Uh, did a Spreadsheet. Mowed the Lawn & Washed the Car, Pickup the Kids & Went to the SuperMarket & BlockBuster. This Guy Designs & Builds the Houses and Buildings we Live+Work In. Fourth-Generation Californian Robin Donaldson has A Lot Going On Up There. I have seen the guy design a house with One Hand while eating His Lunch with the other. We’re Not talking about – no offense if you live in one, Your BasicTractHouse, either. Something More Like This ~

oh, and you’re Not Sure what To Do with the Inside ~ (architects call this ‘The Interior’). Well, how about throwing out the Cable Rug Grandma Gave You and those Plastic Milk Crates you Balance your Big Screen on for something, well…like this ~

Robin, when he’s not Dreaming Up Someone’s Phantasmagoric Phantasy Pad is Basically a Regular California Guy. He’s got a Great Family, a Big One, with a Dome-Headed Dad and a Bunch of Dome-Headed Brothers with Big Brains (Hence the Domes) and a Foxy Wife and 2 Genius-in-the Making Boys that Rip on Electric Guitar and they’re not even Old Enough to Drive, not Even Close. The Guy Drives a 10-year-old Ford Truck with Surf Stickers on the Back Bumper and Boards Inside so he can Surf when he’s not Dreaming Up more Dome-Headed Stuff like The Office You Wished You Worked In instead of those Crappy Computer Cubes Most of Us think of as ‘The Office’. For Instance ~

Robin Donaldson doesn’t Do All of This By Himself ~ He’s got an Equally Brilliant Partner and Mentors a Staff of 25 Equally Brilliant Staff Members to Design & Build these Incredible Spaces in Places like Abu Dhabi, Mexico and Of Course, California.

His Architectural firm, Shubin+Donaldson has 2 offices in California and Clients are Coming & Going Constantly in what for many is an Extremely Challenging Economy. But This isn’t about All of That ~

So What’s the Point ?

Robin Made a Book. It’s Called LIVE+WORK. And That’s the Point. That’s What We All Do. It’s How we Choose to Do It. For Damn Sure Federico doesn’t always Do it Right. which is why these California Guys Inspire Me & Can Inspire You…

Robin Said Two Things to Me That I Try to Remember…Once when Federico was Lamenting the Loss of Yet Another California Country-Club Style Crushing Hot Blonde Girlfriend, Robin’s words were, “You’ve Got to be Tougher”. That’s It. No Sugar-Coated “Sorry, Pal” for Federico. And he was Right.

And on the subject of What You’re Reading, All of It, A Year & 25,000 Readers Later…he told me

Keep Writing.

So I Do.

This Journal of California People, Places & Things was Originally Inspired by Two Other California Guys who, at the Outset of My Journey to Write over 2 Years Ago ~ Taught me so much about Where We Live. My Grandfather & Father were practically Inseperarable their Whole Lives, and when I was Lucky Enough to Come Along, there were Three of Us California Boys ~

They showed me the Mountains, The Sea & The Deserts of California. They Played me Cool Jazz, Mambo & Mariachi, and I discovered Rock N’Roll, R&B and Roots along the Way. They taught me about Animals & History, to Play Music, To Laugh at Yourself Sometimes, To Work Hard & Work with Your Hands, and To Hold a Door Open for a Lady.

As much as I think about them Every Day and All that We Shared, the fact they’re not here anymore has taught me about Mortality, that Nothing Lasts Forever. What I Choose to Write is Hopefully a Small Way To say Thank You to Them, To all of you Out There, and Thanks to wordpress.com as well. The F deC Readership is an almost Equal Split between Senores y Senoritas in Many Far-Away Lands from California ~ from ages under 13 to over 60 who have chosen to Stop & Read Along the Way ~ which Makes me Happy.

Gracias al Todos ~ Federico

photos : © Steve Wilkings, Dan Merkel, Shaun & Carla Tomson, Ciro Coelho & Shubin+Donaldson Architects

The California Hot Rod ~ Survival of the Fittest on the Desert Dry Lakes 1945-2010


“It didn’t make any difference to me whether I thought the airplane would go faster than sound. I was assigned as a test pilot on it, and it was my duty to fly it…”

~ Chuck Yeager

“Some dang fool gave me a roadster when I was 14 and ruined my whole cotton-pickin’ life”, begins Dick Kraft on his entry into the world of California Hot Rods. “Then, I had a ‘29 Model A with Kelseys and a Winfield head that I paid for by working on the family ranches. I wasn’t getting anywhere [with the four-banger] so I bought a ‘32 roadster with side mounts and 18-inch wheels for $200. In high school, we had a car club called the Plutocrats. Every Saturday night, we would street race to hold [onto] our number-one status.” Street racing was (and is), is a part of Hot Rod History. The Legends of the Sport didn’t become heroes by collecting stamps – as kids they were racers…”   ~ Dick Kraft

Dick Kraft fires his '27 T Modified ~ El Mirage Dry Lake 1948

Although The Birth of California Hot Rodding pre-dates WWII, on the Dry Lakes & on the Streets of California ~ The War actually accelerated the growth of the Sport. With the Further Development of the Ford Flathead V-8 engine – The U.S. Army ran ’em in their Tanks and the larger displacement Lincolns and Packard engines ended up in America’s PT-Boats and Fighter Planes. All sorts of bits from the California Aircraft Industry ended up in Hot Rods after the War, including the Pilots. Indeed the ‘Belly Tank’ Dry Lakes first ‘StreamLiners’ were fabricated from the auxiliary fuel tanks used by WWII Fighter planes like the Lockheed P-38, One BadAss California Hot Rod in its Own Right, but that’s Another Story…

55th Air Group Ground Crew with 150 Gallon Drop Tanks at Nuthampstead, England ~ 16 November 1943

After 5 years of Hell-Bent Survival of the Fittest on Land, Sea & Air, California Boys had to find a way to Quench the Need for Speed, and California Hot Rodders took to the Air & Land in the Dry Desert Air in the Pursuit of Performance ~

The 1st 'Belly Tank' Lakester built by Bill Burke 1946 ~ Lots of WWII Surplus Gear All 'Round

California HotRodder Don Montgomery, 1948 ~ sporting a pair of WWII-style Bausch & Lomb Air Force issue shades, the 1st 'Ray-Bans'

And Indeed 65 Years Later, The Survival of the Fittest California Dry Lakes Hot Rods reached what Most Aficionados would consider the Pinnacle of Automotive High Style ~ The Hallowed Ground of the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, 2010. The Iconic California Dry Lakes Roadsters And ‘Belly Tankers’ have since been restored to the Nth Degree… Far More Refined & Coveted in their Appearance than the All-Business Originals. However what Really Shines Through the Gloss, Pomp & Circumstance, The Caviar & the Champagne of the Greens of Pebble Beach is This. The California HotRodders, after enduring Years of Toil, War, Death & Destruction, came home to California to Create a Culture that was celebrated Then & Today for the Pursuit of Engineering, Design & Performance Excellence in the Thin Air Desert Dry Lakes of California ~

So-Cal Speed Shop '32 Deuce Roadster ~ Santa Ana Drags, 1950 & on the Streets of L.A., 2010

The So-Cal Speed Shop Team makes the Cover, 1950., & The So-Cal Speed Shop 'Belly-Tanker' today, Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010

The Evans Equipt '27 T-Bucket Modified Roadster ~ El Mirage 1950 & Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010

BadAss California HotRod 59AB Maxed-Out Merc Flatheads ~ State of the Art in 1950

Perhaps the Greatest Honour that can be bestowed on these California HotRods today is after years of racing, knuckle-busting, scraped together with bits leftover from Woe-Begotten World-War II Surplus by Men toiling in the California Desert Dust, Heat & Cold in the Pursuit of nothing more than Every Last Bit of Speed…Years of Neglect & Idleness, and finally these Rolling Works of Art take their place beside the Bugattis, Ferraris, Mercedes & Duesenbergs of the Classic Automotive Stratosphere, representing their Time & Place as California Art ~

The Shadoff Special/CT StreamLiner ~ World Speed Record Holder, Bonneville 1953 & Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010

 

 

Special Thanks to Jalopy Journal.com /H.A.M.B. , Kustomrama.com, and Jimmy Bs 1925 Chev’s photostream on http://www.flickr.com for photos in the post ~

Elvis in L.A. ~ 1970


The King visiting his Subjects in his Mercedes 600 Limousine ~ L.A. 1970

Some California Icons are Bigger than the stories anyone can write About Them ~ Certainly Elvis is one who will be forever Connected with California, through his Music, his Movies, & his Moxie. He Gave us So Much ~

Long Live the King !

Mid-Century Modern Mad Men ~ • Albert Frey & Raymond Loewy in Palm Springs, 1931-1980


Much Like other Genres of California Pop Culture & Influence, it took several European Immigrants to the California Lifestyle to Recognize and Establish a Standard of Architecture, creating several Mid-Century Masterpieces that influence all that we know today about Modern California Design ~

At the end of World War II Palm Springs’ Lazy Sunny Slow Desert Population almost tripled, and the city experienced a building boom. As an Elite Escape for the Hollywood Gentry and a Winter Haven for East Coast industrialists, Palm Springs would emerge Post-War as a resort community for a broader segment of the American populace with more leisure time than any previous generation. This helped to attract Design Projects from around the country, along with readily available Wide Open Spaces, a Balmy Tropical Clime and existing relaxed building codes and regulations…


Albert Frey was born in Zurich and had Come Up in an era of the Dutch De Stijl Movement & German Bauhaus Schools of Thought on Design. There is a Direct Correlation in these European Design Styles that one can see today in the Iconic Mid-Century Homes & Buildings well-preserved in the Dry California Desert of Palm Springs.

Frey moved around Europe, working in Belgium for several notable Architects, then moving to work with the Master Le Corbusier. Mssr. Frey came to America to work in 1928, and indeed one can trace the Roots of California Mid-Century Modernism to this period, as Architects like Frey, Austrians Rudolph Schindler & Richard Neutra moved to the U.S., bringing Art Deco & Modernist Sensibilites to the Somewhat Staid and Rigid American Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Design Ethic of the Day.

Photographer Edward Steichen, Film Director Josef Von Sternberg along with his Muse, actress Marlene Dietrich and her Contemporary Greta Garbo and Many Others influenced and Began to Shape California Pop Culture in Film, Photography, Graphics, Architecture, Furniture and Product Design. Albert Frey had already Created & Contributed several American Architectural Masterpieces with Le Corbusier and other leading American Architects of the Day years before setting foot in Palm Springs, or even California…

Consider That Most Americans were either Entering the Depression, going to Gangster Movies and PoP Culture centered around Bonnie & Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly and Charlie Chaplin, that Perhaps Puts the Progressive Luminaire House in Perspective as Design in 1931 ~

Designed by architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey for the 1931 Architectural League exhibition in New York, the Aluminaire House was one of only two houses by American architects to be included in the Museum of Modern Art’s famed 1932 International Exhibition of Modern Architecture. Disassembled and rebuilt 3 times, The Aluminaire now resides On the Central Islip (Long Island) campus of the New York Institute of Technology.

Another Altogether Influential European Designer would come to America from his Native France, having been wounded & decorated by his country while serving in WWI. His name was Raymond Loewy. He almost single-handedly changed the Face of American Product, literally creating a completely new Modern American Design Vernacular in Trains, Planes & Automobiles ~

Monsieur Loewy, having landed in New York in his French Military Uniform with $50. in his pocket, sought work immediately in Manhattan. Much like his N.Y.C. PopArt Successor Andy Warhol, Loewy started out his Illustrious American Design Career Stateside in the 1920’s as a Window Display Designer for Department Stores, including Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. He soon found work on a Higher Level as a Fashion Illustrator for the magazines Vogue & Harper’s Bazaar, as Fashion was largely illustrated rather than photographed at that time. This path very much Parallels that of Warhol some 30 years later…however that is where the Similarity of the Two Ends ~

Loewy’s Amazing Design Talent & Skills Propelled Him to the Stratosphere of Classic American Industrial & Product Design. He designed everything from The World’s First Streamlined Refrigerator, the Coldspot, to Complete Railroad Lines, Locomotives, Furniture, Graphic Design, Airliner Interiors and Automobiles ~ His Most Noteworthy Association in this realm with Studebaker. One of his Most Beautiful & Timeless Designs is this breathtaking Studebaker StarLiner Coupe from the Early Fifties, Known among Automotive Aficionados as the ‘Loewy Coupe’  ~

And So ~ at the Peak of Their Careers, Mssrs. Frey & Loewy’s Paths Converged. As Raymond Loewy was a Confirmed Bachelor at this point in his Stellar Mad Men Career, he needed a Man Cave. And who Better to Build It than the Confirmed Mid-Century Desert Design Maestro Albert Frey.

From 1935 to 1937 Albert Frey worked with John Porter Clark (1905-1991), a Cornell-educated architect, under the firm name of Van Pelt and Lind Architects as both were yet unlicensed in California. April of 1937 saw Frey briefly return to the east coast to work on the Museum of Modern Art in New York. While in New York Frey married Marion Cook, a writer he had met in Palm Springs. In 1938, Frey and his wife went to France and returned to America on the SS Normandie, a floating Art Deco Masterpiece. The couple arrived back in New York City on August 1, 1938 aboard the Great Ocean Liner.


Frey was So Enamored of Palm Springs and its Surroundings, he would soon focus all his Creative Design Energies there. He built his own home in Palm Springs in 1941, starting with a 3-bedroom nucleus that he hoped could be a prototype for mass-produced homes. Built out of very low-cost industrial materials, it came in at $6 per square foot, low even then. An original proponent of multiple-use space, his dining room table hung from the ceiling on clotheslines, The Iconic architectural Photographer Julius Shulman wrote about the Frey House,

“The aluminum siding and ceiling reflected the sun, while the interior wood panelling provided a feeling of warm refinement”


To see more of Julius Shulman’s Palm Springs Architectural Photography have a look at Modernism Rediscovered; pictures by Julius Shulman from::Palm Springs Modern Committee .

Frey’s Building Technique would soon Become the Mid-Century Southern California  Style Vernacular~

Architects & Builders all over Southern California would Adopt Frey’s Design & Building Style, capitalizing on readily available materials that emerged from the Mass Industrialization of America & the Southern California Aircraft Industry during WWII. FiberGlas, Aluminum & Plywood established the Signature Look ~


Architects like Cliff May & Roy Fey would Capitalize on this PostWar Building Boom,

adopting Frey’s Le Corbusier ethic and applying it Everywhere a Tract House Could Live in California. Neighborhoods from Larkspur to Lakewood sprang up and with all those G.I’s returning from Axis Battle with their G.I. Bills, Times were Good in Sunny California ~

One Big Drawback of these Low-Cost Innovations by the Bauhaus Master Frey was that Anyone could Get in on The Act, often with Questionable Results, and the California Tract House Was Born ~


But Not to Worry, as the Absolute Masters shared & adopted Frey’s Culture as well, and shared & adopted Frey’s Culture as well, and California Masterpieces arose… the Most Iconic Example is easily the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs by Richard Neutra. To look upon this house today One sees the Intuitive Skill in which Neutra Adopted Man’s Need for Shelter with the Surrounding Natural Setting as One ~

The Kaufmann House - a 1946 masterwork by architect Richard Neutra

The much-photographed 1946 masterwork by architect Richard Neutra might be the complete marriage of the abstract geometry of modern architecture with the desert-and-mountain landscape of Palm Springs. The sleek, largely horizontal, 3,162-square-foot house — on 2.53 acres, and including five bedrooms and six bathrooms — is laid out with pinwheel-like wings, offset by a few vertical elements — a chimney and an outdoor sleeping area that Neutra called a “gloriette” — that pull together the sprawling composition.

Many critics place the house amongst the most important houses of the 20th century in the United States and even was included in a list of all time top 10 houses in Los Angeles in December 2008.

And while the Upscale Master Neutra was Doing the Big-Time Mid-Century Masterpieces in the Desert ~ The Pioneer of the Genre, Albert Frey worked on a Smaller Scale with regard to Residential Design. Concentrating on his Ethic of Economy and Cost-Effective Materials, Frey Designed & Built an Addition to his Frey House I, in 1946.

Rising Out of the Rugged Palm Springs Landscape ~ Frey’s Iconic Extraterrestrial Turret appeared as from An Erector Set on Steroids ~

One can note the Most Basic of Hardware-Store Materials Frey conceived in a Most Iconic Manner

To see Frey’s own houses today perched in a Rugged Palm Canyon, is Almost Surreal. So Famous is the UFO-like Profile of Frey’s Home, it’s hard to Distinguish the Reality of your Gaze from one of Julius Shulman’s Timeless photographs.

As Frey’s Direct Bold Style Took Hold in the desert, Commercial Commissions in the Community presented themselves, and Indeed stand today as Testaments to Albert Frey’s Design Genius & the Simplicity in which he Preferred to Live, Embracing the Desert Surroundings ~

George & Judy Jetson got Married at the Palm Springs City Hall, 1957 (below) & Filled Up at the TramWay Gas Station, 1963 ~ Albert Frey

And Almost as a Parallel ~ The Bachelor Designer Raymond Loewy’s career had drawn him to Palm Springs in the Forties. So What Better Architect than Frey to collaborate with Loewy for the Ultimate Mad Men Man Cave ?

Raymond Loewy's Ultimate Man Cave & The Trappings of Bachelor Success ~ Albert Frey, 1946

Built in 1946-47 as a bachelor retreat and expanded later when Loewy got married, the house today has been restored by metalware manufacturer Jim Gaudineer who said of the design, “When you slide open the glass walls, it’s almost like living outdoors.” A typical Palm Springs modernist villa with a low-slung pavilion and plenty of glass that provides striking views of desert, mountains, and the pool and garden that make the private oasis complete…

What makes the Loewy House so Attractive is its Intimacy and like all of Frey’s Designs, its Simplicity. The Pool that literally Floats into the house…How Very Dean Martin of you Raymond. And indeed with Julius Shulman’s amazing Black & White photographs of the Loewy House, along with so many of Frey’s designs, it became an Immediate California Design Icon, like Frey Himself ~

For some years in the Late 40’s and 50’s Loewy settled down to a Life of Designer Domesticity

enjoying the Fruits of his Labors…and indeed in so many pictures of his Life, he is Surrounded by Beautiful Women, Admiring Friends & Co-Workers…No Shrinking Violet, Mr. Loewy ~ The Desert Design MasterMind Working on his Tan…and during that period Loewy continued his association with Studebaker, designing a Succession of Styles for them that would ensure Studebaker’s, and Loewy’s place in Time, literally…

Loewy with a Final Prototype Avanti - A 4-door never produced~looking some 50 years previous a lot like the 2010 Porsche Panamera

Loewy’s continued success and Endless Restless Design Genius would lead him to what many feel is his Swan Song ~ A Studebaker that, in spite of the Impending Doom of a company Loewy’s Designs had propped up for years – His Finest Hour would come with The Last Effort of a very old American Car Company to stay alive …

The Studebaker Avanti ~

A Final Avanti rendering virtually identical to the 1963 ~ preceding Mustang, Camaro, et al

Loewy in Later Years would divorce his Wife, and like Many Maniacal Mad Men, would soon Marry a Woman Half his Age ~

While his business earned roughly $3 million a year for decades, Loewy was able to indulge a sybaritic life‑style. In addition to a series of enormous yachts, Loewy at his peripatetic peak maintained lavish residences on Long Island and the Riviera, a pied‑a‑terre in Paris and a château in the suburbs, a Fifth Avenue cooperative, a villa in Mexico and of course the Frey House Palm Springs, Calif. “Of course, we have very little of all that left,” said his wife Viola.

And What of Frey Himself ? Perhaps the New York Times said it best in 1998 ~

Albert Frey, a Modernist and Minimalist Architect, Dies at 95

Albert Frey, an early ambassador to America of the International Style of architecture who later brought its themes to buildings in harmony with the American desert, died on Nov. 14 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., his executor, F. Gillar Boyd Jr., said.

He was 95 years old.

Mr. Frey belonged to a generation that believed in a political role for modern architecture, that of social liberation through machine-made, egalitarian and affordable designs. His chosen materials were aluminum, glass, cables and, eventually, the very boulders and sands of the desert where he settled.

In a career that spanned more than 65 years, Mr. Frey remained true to the principle that architecture should make the most of the least. His best known works were the East Coast houses he designed with Lawrence Kocher in the 1930’s and the many buildings he created in the Palm Springs of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.

”He was the last of a generation of European architects that came to the West Coast envisioning that, in this unformed landscape, a perfected vision of a modern future could bloom,” said Terence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art.

And Mr. Loewy ? He Lived to Be 97, until 1986 ~

During his lifetime Loewy’s company worked for numerous private companies as well as governments, and his designs have had a major effect on the Man-Made Environment. Products he has been responsible for range from cars, ships, airplanes, buildings and white-goods appliances
to products such as toothbrushes and pens.

Mssr. Loewy served as consultant to numerous corporations including  The Hupp Motor company, Coca- Cola, United Airlines, Shell, Exxon, IBM, BMW, GM and NASA sought him for his streamlined designs seen to reflect economy and grace. Loewy was a Consultant to NASA on the Apollo Space Program, and on the Saturn I, Saturn V, and the SkyLab Habitat studies, 1967-1973.

That is a Long Way from Designing 1930’s Refrigerators~ And Along Somewhere, in Between All of Those Accolades, The Two of Them were Just Two Young Brilliant Guys, Admiring Each Others’ Work, Creating a New California Style, Some Sensible Living Spaces & Making Friends ~


Who Was the Best Pilot I Ever Saw ? ~ 50 Years of Badass California HotRodders • A Gallery


California has long been called the Birthplace of Hot Rodding…

In his Book, The American Hot Rod, Iconic California Hot Rodder Dean Batchelor illustrates that, while the ‘Classic Hot Rod’ may have been a ’32 Deuce Roadster with a Hot Flathead, the Real California Hot Rodders knew of, Appreciated & were Enthusiasts of all types of MotorSport – Sports Car Racing, Dry Lakes, Motorcycling, Drag Racing, and all that entails. Mind you, NASCAR had not even been founded on the beach at Daytona when Mr. Batchelor and many other California Hot Rodders were going about  the Business of Speed ~ so here, an ongoing Gallery of Images of some of the most Badass Hot Rods and the Californians that Shape the Sport ~


Dean Batchelor • SoCal Speed Shop '32 Roadster, Muroc Dry Lake 1948

Although there are so many California Men & Women that define the term ‘Hot Rodding’, there are a few that have excelled far beyond their original California HotRod Roots to become International Icons of MotorSport. Santa Monica, California Boy Phil Hill was the First (of only 2) Grand Prix Formula 1 World Champions for the United States ~ Considered by many to be the Pinnacle of MotorSport. Phil Hill accomplished this in 1961. Long Associated as a Driver for Ferrari the Iconic Italian Scuderia run by Notoriously European Elitist Enzo Ferrari. For Phil Hill to be recognized as one of the Drivers in an Era Completely Dominated by European Drivers & Teams, to win Grands Prix, much less the World Championship in that atmosphere is a True Testament to Phil Hill’s Driving Skill. In 1960 he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, for Ferrari, The first Grand Prix win for an American driver in nearly forty years, since Jimmy Murphy won the 1921 French Grand Prix. His Primary Career Victories are Simply Astounding for any MotorSports Driver in any form of the Sport ~

One of the Most Talented, Winningest & Versatile California HotRodders Ever ~ Dan Gurney.

As a driver, Gurney scored Practically Countless Victories in the sports car races at Daytona, Sebring, the Targa Florio, the 1000 km at the Nurburgring and Le Mans. He won four World Championship Grand Prix races, in France, Belgium and Mexico, three additional Formula 1 races, seven USAC/Indy Car road races and five NASCAR 500 Stock Car races. He was twice runner-up in the Indy 500. Gurney has the distinction of being the only U.S. citizen in the 100 year history of Formula 1 racing to win a World Championship Grand Prix in a car of his own construction.

Dan Gurney in the AAR Gurney Eagle ~ The First American to Win F1 with an American Car of his design ~ 12 Jun 1966, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

Dan Gurney’s All American Racers is the only constructor in the U.S. that has designed and built a winning F1 grand prix car, The Gurney-Weslake Eagle. A variant of-winning Indianapolis 500 car and a winning sports car. The All American Racers’ factory team employed 66 drivers winning 78 victories, the “Indy 500,” 83 pole positions and eight Championships.

Dan Gurney & Harry Weslake- Developers of the First American Engine to win at Formula One ~ Brands Hatch 1967

Dan Gurney ~ FIA 289 Cobra, Targa Florio 1000KM Italy 1964

Ken Miles & the Shelby King Cobra, Riverside 1964 ~ One of the Best, Ever.

Drag Racing Legend ~ SF Valley Boy, A Teenage Don Prudhomme in the Tommy Ivo 4-engine Dragster. Early 1960's

One of the First Women to Excel in MotorSport ~ Shirley Muldowney • AA Top Fuel Dragster, 1968

The HotRodder’s Hot Rodder ~

Legendary California Hot Rodder Mickey Thompson

In the 1950’s & 60’s of California HotRodding, there really were no Corporate Sponsors or Big Paychecks. Guys like Mickey Thompson built what they had and ‘Run What They Brung’ to Pursue Speed, often with very little budget. Mickey Thompson built, ran and financed a Succession of Successful Hot Rods in Drag Racing, Off-Road and his Pursuit of the Land Speed Record at Bonneville.

He developed a brilliant career as both a driver and an Innovative Automotive Technician; later as a designer, manufacturer and seller of racing and performance equipment. In addition to being a Drag Racing Champion, Mickey Thompson set more speed and endurance records than any other man in automotive history. He is credited with designing and building the first slingshot dragster in 1954, moving the seat behind the rear axle to improve traction when the existing racing tires proved unsuitable.[1] A change so momentous in the Sport, it would not happen again until Don Garlits introduced the Rear-engined Dragster in 1971.[2] Thompson also was noted for being the first manager of Lions Drag Strip near Long Beach, California in 1955.

In his long career, Thompson raced everything from stock cars to off-road vehicles and engineered numerous competition engines. He went into the performance aftermarket business in the early 1960s and then, in 1963 he created “Mickey Thompson Performance Tires” that developed special tires for racing including for Indianapolis 500 competitors.

MT~Prepped for the Carrera Panamericana Mexican Road Roace, 1954

Thompson founded SCORE International in 1973, a sanctioning body to oversee off-road racing across North America. He and his wife Trudy formed the “Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group” (MTEG) which ran an indoor motocross and off-road vehicle racing show and competition that brought the sport from the back-country terrain to stadiums in the heavily populated metropolitan areas.

One BadAss Calf. HotRodder ~ Mickey Thompson & 4-Engine, 400 MPH Challenger I, Bonneville 1960

The Fastest Man Alive…

Fastest Man on Wheels ~ Craig Breedlove & Crew with Spirit of America, Bonneville Salt Flats, 1963

The Spirit of America

Incredibly Driven California Hot Rodder Craig Breedlove was Driven to Pursue his Quest as Fastest Man Alive in 1962. In Pursuit of the Land Speed Record ~ Breedlove set out to Build and Field the Fastest Car on Wheels, The Spirit of America. Breedlove was and Is to This Day so Incredibly Driven to Build the Ultimate Bad California Hot Rod, he built it in his garage, simultaneously putting on suit & tie while pursuing Big Financing to Keep his Project Alive and meeting with Suits from Goodyear and Shell Oil. In a Succession of Cars, Breedlove Won & Lost & Won Again his Quest for Fastest Man on Wheels –


The Spirit of America was the first of the modern jet-propelled record breaking cars, built with a narrow stream-lined fuselage, three wheel chassis, and most significantly turbojet engine. Like most of the other competing vehicles the engine was ex-military, the first Spirit had a General Electric J47 engine from an F-86 Sabre and was tested at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1962, where difficult handling resulted in failure. Before trying again a new stabilizer was added and a steerable front wheel.

Breedlove set his first record on September 5, 1963 at Bonneville, the first man to set an average speed of over 400 mph during a land speed record.[1]

With 5,000 pounds of thrust, The Spirit wasn’t just pretty, it was fast. On Oct. 5, 1963, clocking a two-way average of just over 407 mph, Breedlove brought the land speed record back to the United States for the first time in 32 years. He broke records with Spirit of America until October 1964, when, at more than 500 mph, his chute snapped off. The car overshot the track, smashed through some telephone poles, skipped across a saltwater pond and sank like a stone. Breedlove walked away wet, but unscathed, and with a record — 526.28 mph. He’s the only driver to nearly drown while setting a land speed record.

 

Risky Business at over 400MPH ~

A new Spirit was built over 1964-65 to attempt to beat Arfons, dubbed Spirit of America – Sonic I a four-wheel design with a much higher rated GE J79 engine originally from an F-4 Phantom, the same type as that used by Arfons’ Green Monster. Competing for the LSR over several years with Arfons ended with Breedlove setting the record at 600.601 mph (966.574 km/h) on November 15, 1965, a record that stood until 1970. The Sonic I is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, California.

After a lengthy break from world records Breedlove began work on a new Spirit in 1992, eventually named the Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV. The vehicle is 44 ft 10 in long, 8 ft 4 in wide, and 5 ft 10 in high (13.67 m by 2.54 m by 1.78 m) and weighs 9,000 lb (4 t), construction is on a steel tube frame with an aluminium skin body. The engine is the same as in the second Spirit, a GE J79, but it is modified to burn unleaded gasoline and generates a maximum thrust of 22,650 lbf (100.8 kN).

The first run of the vehicle in October 28, 1996 in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada ended in a crash at around 675 mph (1,000 km/h). Returning in 1997 the vehicle badly damaged the engine on an early run and when the British ThrustSSC managed over 750 mph (1200 km/h) the re-engined Spirit could do no better than 676 mph (1088 km/h). Breedlove believes the vehicle is capable of exceeding 800 mph (1,200 km/h).

Breedlove sold the Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV to Steve Fossett, holder of many sailing, ballooning and other aviation records, and the car was undergoing rebuilding in hopes of some preliminary shakedown runs in late September 2007 at Bonneville. However, Steve Fossett went missing in early September 2007 while scouting for alternative land speed record venues in Nevada, and his body then later recovered.[2]

To Be Continued…

 

One of the Earliest of the New California 'Funny Cars' ~ Doug Thorley, "Chevy II Much", 1966

 

Beach City Chevrolet Fuel FunnyCar 'Vette, 1969 ~ Evil HotRods & Evil Girls are 2 of a Kind, Long on Horsepower, Long Legs & Hard To Handle. Totally Worth It.


Too Hot to Handle ~ Tom Pre-'Mongoose' McEwen in Evil Handling Mid-Engine Hemi-Cuda, which would soon Wind Up Shiny Side Down, 1966

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