Cruise Your Illusion I: The Painted Wagons

Sure it’s unconventional to take a perfectly good car, glue junk on it or paint it up to create an art car. At that point it becomes a a public service because it breaks the monotony–so many cars, so many drab shades. There’s an audience, often a captive one. I know I’ll stop what I’m doing and take a picture. There’s also the stuck-in-traffic crowd who say, “Look at that car!” Diversions in a traffic jam can be exciting.

I document art cars when I see them mostly while they’re parked. There usually isn’t a way to track down the owners to find out what inspired them to decorate their cars. I gained a sense of the art car phenomenon when I wrote about the Space Taxi and interviewed Marcie MacFarlane, coowner of The Trophy Wife which satisfied my curiosity somewhat. It’s helped me appreciate people breaking out of the norm to offer the world something beyond a run of the mill paint job.

Unfurl the swirl.

With colors and lines flowing within a wind storm, this wagon noticed in Northeast had a Van Gogh high on psychedelics while painting in the garden quality. Curly Q’s and puffy clouds are all I need most days.

What you wonderin’ about?

More woman than you.

Three summers ago Will Simmons and I rolled past the Wonder Woman Art Car parked on North Williams Avenue. This is hardly a comprehensive exhibit of this design. Two pictures don’t do it justice. Someday I hope to meet the owner or owners. Without the full story, I’m left to admire the big, bold, cartoony paint job that’s moving, or in this case parked, pop art. I’ll leave you with the Wonder Woman Theme Song that’s playing in my head on a loop.

Out back.

The best of Australia.

These cars seem more at home in the Outback and I’m not talking Subaru models. I’ve spotted and admired Aboriginal Art on a couple of different vehicles. While reminiscent of all things down under, it takes me back in time before there were cars. These side panels are a modern twist on a rock art tradition.

Over mountains, over seas.

The majestic mountain subject matter always caught my attention when I saw this car in my old Kenton neighborhood. I tended to find it parked up the street in the middle of the day when the light was at its harshest. The art might not be great but I would still live in the mountainous landscape it depicts.

Comments on comets.

This sleek, smooth, daring comet design screams movement. It’s doubtful that the blazing space rock helps the car move faster. Is there any wonder that I saw this reflection of the cool crowd in Steve’s neighborhood, somewhere in the blurred border of the Kenton and Portsmouth neighborhood?

Heading’ out!

Sometimes cars, like this one spotted in the Mississippi neighborhood, need help. Face it, with this model of car painting anything on it, including a funky face and head light eyes, is an improvement.

In dreams.

Float downstream.

Until I saw this car I never thought about Yoga Dreams or even considered what it would be like to have one but those who have them or live them inspire me by choosing their car as a means to broadcast their lifestyle choice. The hood illustration is a mobile billboard when the car’s parked. The sunny design is an added bonus. I spotted this car in the Humboldt neighborhood and I can appreciate how the blue on the side panel creates a dream effect, floating yoga within watery confines of primordial art disguised as advertising.

I recall the owner of this van was in the popcorn business, not that this would be the only reason to be inspired to have a corn motif painted on ones vehicle. This creation, with its mismatched kernels, is authentic enough to make anyone who noticed think they’re being chased by a giant ear of corn.


Dash Needs a Brake: A PDX Adult Soapbox Derby Report

After almost ten years living in Portland, I still hadn’t trekked up Mt. Tabor for the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby that happens every August. When I found myself surrounded by homemade, hill-powered vehicles, decorated with handcrafted flair, I wondered what had taken me so long. Distractions aside, my mission was to find Dash. For the sake of his reputation as an educator, we decided on identifying him with one name only. I found him adding the number 18 to various places on his car. Later as he applied duct tape to his towing bolt he pointed out, “I don’t want to annihilate myself should I get launched forward.” This was my introduction to the rough and tumble world of Adult Soapbox Derby.

While walking through the pre-race area, I overheard, “At some point, it would be nice to have a cute little car that’s easy to unload.” This didn’t seem likely as the cars I saw were large and complex, some with multiple riders and they all had to be hauled up Mt. Tabor. Walking through this area was a blast. People milled around chatting and taking photos while teams were getting their cars ready. I enjoyed the outlandish car designs and costumes that fit the car’s themes. One participant, who had one of two New York City subway inspired cars, described his vehicle as a tribute to the world’s greatest living museum, the NYC subway trains of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, when they were covered with graffiti. People’s enthusiasm for the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby was infectious.

Dash was waiting to have his car inspected. A check-in person had already come by to let him know he had dropped his Tupperware and a stick when he was bringing his car up the hill. The inspection process proved how organized the event was. There were volunteers in all kinds of capacities, one even had me sign a waiver when Dash drafted me to help push his car at the starting line.

The inspector stopped by and expressed concern about the condition of the cords Dash used in his brake system. He suggested replacing the cord. Dash worked on his brakes while telling his Derby history. He started as a pusher, pushing for eight years. One of the teams he worked with was called Toe Cutters. “Someone gave us half a car and that’s how it hatched,” Dash said explaining how he went on to build his own car and race for the last four years.

Dash’s current car is named Kon-Tiki. The name was inspired from the Norwegian explorer and writer, Thor Heyerdahl, who built a raft of the same name in the 40’s to research whether people from South America may have been able to travel to Polynesia by sea and settle there. “This one is an entire new rig,” Dash pointed out.  Logs were incorporated into his craft to “raft it up.” Papier-mache formed the basis of the toothless dragon motif. “It’s all part of the mystique. You gotta keep it a little weird,” Dash explained. The chassis of Dash’s car included two 2 x 4’s, assorted lumber and vintage moped wheels in the back where the cord was pulling drum brakes.

The Derby is a social event as much as a race. Cars ride three to a heat until the fastest Soapbox Derby car is crowned. Participants fill out a ballot sheets voting on various categories for more accolades. There’s plenty of opportunity for people from racing teams with long histories to hang out at an event ending party.

The inspector wasn’t accepting Dash’s cord brake system. My scatter shot notes revealed his comment, “you’re trying to die this year.” The inspector remembered the front wheel disc brakes Dash had used for his car the year before which had been decorated with a cow theme. “What’s all this?” The inspector asked. Dash explained his steering which employed raft-like push sticks for each wheel. Dash’s last minute brake inspiration involved rigging up a bar attached to a steel rod in an attempt to stop the back wheel. Dash drilled a hole into one of the boards of his car. “Hey Phil want to see if this thing comes through when I whack it,” he asked one of his helpers.

The inspector had one more look at Dash’s brake addition seeing if the wheel would stop as people pushed the car. I was amazed by Dash’s dedication and willingness to drive his car without foolproof brakes. “I can’t give you a go,” the inspector said. They shook hands. Dash accepted the disqualification. “It’s gonna be a good day regardless of whether you’re racing or not,” he said. Later he offered his services as a driver to a neighboring car, hunted down some screws to help another team and loaned out his bike pump.

As for race watching, the trick seems to be finding the right spot. Cars at the starting line begin slow and then scurry past. A man was telling his kids about “blood alley,” a name that could only be derived from frequent wrecks. I didn’t stay for much of the race vowing to return next year. I left appreciating the flamboyance of the car exteriors more than their racing ability.

Dash shared what it’s like to ride the mile long track that twists and turns down Mt. Tabor. While cars approach speeds of 50 miles an hour, Dash warned of the dangers of the “speed wobbles” that eat many cars and joked about having an “aim for the haystack” racing philosophy. He’s experienced first hand the hazards of dodging disintegrating cars. The importance of brakes in Adult Soapbox Derby car design cannot be overstated.

See 19 seconds of Dash crashing from a previous race:

To see a Portland Orbit slide show with a fantastic metal electronica score click here:

Transmission Troubles: A Space Taxi Fundraiser



Advertising gets results.

A photo on a bulletin board in the art supply store on N Lombard St caught my eye. A flyer advertised an art car fundraiser. I knew the car having seen it around town. It was especially memorable parked in front of Roosevelt High School. I posted on Facebook about the time the car drove past our house. I had long wanted to contact the people behind this car and now I had the chance.

In praise of the art car.

When I think about meeting people involved in outsider pursuits like art cars, graffiti or sticker culture, I fear the people involved might be subversive, anti-social or pretentious. It’s unheralded anxiety not based on experience. Myriah Day and Chris Landon owners of the art car Space Taxi couldn’t have been more welcoming. The fundraiser was a combination cook out, open house and opportunity to decorate, or redecorate the car. My wife, Ronna, and I were offered food and drink and friendly company. We were encouraged to contribute our own artistic touches to the car. Boxes of paint, glue, and art materials were provided.

Phone parts and more.

The inspiration for the art car started when the couple owned a fancy Carmen Ghia which brought them attention and compliments. When Myriah became pregnant with their son Harvey, it must have seemed like a time to make changes. Chris realized he was too tall for the car and got rid of it. Around that time Myriah received a car from her grandparents.

“It was a plain white car and nobody talked to us about our car anymore,” Chris said. Mariah pointed out that the white Chevy Lumina, resembled a police car so people were always doing the speed limit around them. “It was no fun,” Chris admitted. He had always wanted to make an art car. Myriah suggested the art car by committee approach.

Chris works with foam.

The original design was planned out. Myriah imagined it like a quilt. They started with a grid of 298 squares, it was organized, a map was made, squares were numbered, contact info was gathered but the plan resulted in an overwhelming bureaucracy that at least got the project started. Through the years the car continues to be decorated at art car parties. “I always say that (Chris) makes the car look better than I probably would but I bring the people together. I’m the social component,” Myriah said. One decorating gathering at a Last Thursday event on Alberta Street had them mobbed by eager assistants. The resulting chaos had Chris accidentally setting Myriah’s hair on fire.

The decoration committee.

Art car parties help with the upkeep of the car’s design. Damaged squares get painted over and new objects are added. Miffed about the “Keep Portland Normal” sticker peeling off the car, Myriah laughed at the irony of it’s message as she pulled what remained off the bumper.

Street Transmissions: An Art Car Fundraiser 9

The “M” train.

The car is now in the neighborhood of twenty years old with over 200,000 miles. It serves a dual purpose, not only is it a Portland Icon, it’s the families’ only car. After replacing the head gasket, catalytic converter and getting new tires, fixing the transmission merited the fundraising campaign. Myriah and Chris weren’t ready to let the car go. They felt a responsibility to the community to keep it on the road.


Somebody call for a taxi?

Not even a car crash could stop Space Taxi. Myriah had been hit in a parking lot by a driver who claimed not to have seen the car. A comment she found laughable. The insurance company wanted to total the car until she pleaded her case for its artistic value. It’s not just a Chevy Lumina, anymore.

Street Transmissions: An Art Car Fundraiser 7

A teachable moment.

Myriah parks the car in front of Roosevelt because she teaches Chemistry there. Students look out for the car and let her know when they think someone’s messing with it. The car made her conscious of the need to prove she was a good teacher and “not just a weirdo.”

Something to sing about.

Space Taxi’s charms can be found in the original quilt pattern with varied art styles and scenes found on the the hood and roof. Ronna pointed out that every time she looked at it she saw something different. I could look at it a thousand times and continue to see new details. I did wonder if decorations were capable of flying off, but I can attest to the strength of the glue used for bonding.

The car locator beacon.

“It’s really funny to look out at a sea of cars and see a foot,” Chris said. This kind of foot spotting can help them find the car in crowded parking lots. Chris recalled a time when they discovered a plain white version of their car in a parking lot which had them thinking, “Oh, no, someone took all of our stuff.”

Space Taxi has appeared in the Portland Orbit once before in a post about Shoe Art. I realized I was looking at a different shoe, one that had been replaced due to theft. This one needed some retrofitting, including cutting out the toe section, but it’s now secure.

An art car detail.

There can’t be a dull moment driving an art car. Myriah mentioned how they collect facial expressions in their minds examples include the image of a scared parent dragging away a curious kid or an onlooker shaking their head in disgust, an expression that changed to a smile and a thumbs up sign when the person realized the scowl was spotted by the art car’s occupants.

Mariah had great advice on art car creation. “The biggest thing I always tell people is you have to make sure the engine works because you’re putting all this time in a car. People are like I have this junker I want to turn into an art car and I’m like why would you ever put all this effort to make an art car to not have the engine work. It’s heartbreaking.”

The first piece: Frog brains.


You can help Space Taxi by contributing what you can:

See Chris Landon, aka Doktor Creature’s Instagram account:

See more art cars:



Top This! Antenna Toppers Invade Portland

Antenna Toppers aren’t confined to Portland. They have the potential to top any antenna. Technology has made antennas much smaller. The newfangled shark fin antenna couldn’t handle a topper which would disrupt its aerodynamics and sleek appearance. It’s possible antenna toppers will become a thing of the past which makes our enjoyment of them all the more poignant.

It’s rare to see an antenna topper shiny and new. They get ravaged by the elements as soon as they are exposed. The short life span that comes with this rapid rate of decay makes them precious. Antenna decor falls into several basic categories: corporate logos, team mascots and helmets, unidentifiable animal characters and the occasional unknown. Allow me to present to you, in living color, a gaggle of antenna toppers spotted in Portland.

Keep Smiling

If anybody should be a topper it’s the ubiquitous smiley face that has no problem getting 3 dimensional since he’s always been so round. Even as the antenna impales his circular frame he keeps smiling. Maybe there’s a lesson here about smiling through impalement.

A Tale of Two Princesses

A princess topper starts off fresh and new dressed in her finest until exposure to the outdoors, wind and rain batters her pink felt, saddens her ears, and tarnishes her golden crown.

Logo the World

Why should 76 company not have an antenna topper that represents their gas stations? Most 76 signs resemble giant antenna toppers as it is.

Alien Mouseketeer

This one is a mystery. Not much of a face with giant eyes and a Venusian completion. But what’s up with the mouse ears? Aliens can’t get enough Disney? There’s not much of a reason to care other than to enjoy life on top regardless of the headgear you choose to sport.

Bug Me

Legless lady bug, some kind of bee, it hardly matters because it’s evident this topper is a free riding insect of some species and an awful happy one at that, as the giant smile can attest.

Top Cup

Looking styrofoam in nature, this topper is a reminder that I could use a cup of coffee. That’s the story of my life. I don’t recognize the brand but in a weird way cows might be as good as any other animal to serve as spokespeople for a coffee company.

Gaucho’s Revenge

It’s Zorro-like, this topper, but it could be anything you want if your imagination works. My first thought was a gaucho, one of those Argentinian cowboys, but his beat up face lacks a mustache or any other characteristics that would offer a clue.

Rubber Ducker

You can never not have fun with a rubber duck so finding one on top of an antenna seems like the right place. If you spot this thing in traffic, which is difficult if traffic is moving, it will bring great joy to your world or at the very least someone’s antenna.

Rabbit Habit

This topper has suffered an elemental beat down so hard it’s unrecognizable. My first thought was the outline of an Easter bunny. I had another look and saw the state of Idaho. At this point I’m unwilling to take a third look.

Jack on the Antenna

A Jack in the Box logo wearing a tiny hat is a fitting way to end this post.

Auto Message


It can be a nice life if you’re easily entertained as I am. If something out of the ordinary catches my eye I want to document it. This compulsion has grown since I’ve had pages of a blog to fill. I was attracted to the handwritten and homemade feel of these messages that I spotted on cars and in car windows. I appreciate people’s needs to communicate especially by way of automobiles which have the potential to be roving bulletin boards.

Honkies Stop!


If the first part is too faint to read it says:

Do not beep your horn to make me go faster. These roads are for walkers, bikers; the old and the young.

I do believe there’s a semi-colon in the message written in marker directly on the car. Or, is it a stray random dot above that comma? The poor sad semi-colon feels like a dying breed in the punctuation world. A message could get lost due to over analysis. No matter – the message is clear. Is it possible that some of the honkers are people still mad about past elections? Since the message is fading it’s harder for people to read the driver’s anti-honking proclamation.


Rage in the Machine

This statement is bolder and may be easier to see in a traffic jam. Visibility is hard to gauge since I have not had the pleasure of seeing this sign bring its message to where it’s needed the most: to the people stuck in that traffic. I use the word pleasure because I know I need a good laugh and reading material, ideally a combination of the two, when I’m stuck, ass-deep in bumpers and car exhaust and I’m not going anywhere for awhile.

I’m trying desperately not to acknowledge the typo in this message just as I would hope my audience would not throw the errors in this blog back in my face. No one has ever gotten mad enough or made any signs that I have seen about the traffic engineers who designed our roads and created this stasis induced road rage leading to nightmares about a traffic system. These folks seem never to have anticipates an influx of traffic year after year. I suppose that message is too complicated to express on a sign taped to the inside of a back window.

Driving Blind


You have to love this simple, yet effective and humorous sign. It’s a great depiction of a nervous dog. It’s hard to imagine how anyone gets a nervous dog to pose for a picture but here’s proof that it can be done. The message about a seeing eye dog insinuates that the student driver is sight impaired. Is that even safe?  To top it all off the sign is unceremoniously taped to the window with wide gaudy yellow tape. Nice touch. Who put the sign on the vehicle the dog or the blind driver?



The Trophy Wife

Marci MacFarlane is a fellow blogger who was kind enough to look me up so we could discuss a couple of my blog posts. I later found out she was the owner of The Trophy Wife art car. I had not seen it around but last August I happened to catch it parked outside the North Portland Tool Library where Marci works. When she’s not keeping her art car in tip top shape, Marci is one of the curators of the public art that can be found at the Pittman Addition HydroPark. I appreciated the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her art car creation.

Trophy Wife 4

Photo courtesy of Marci MacFarlane

What I was wondering was what it was that inspired you to create an art car? Well, I’ve had an art car since ’88, I think, my first art car, it’s kind of funny, I was dating this guy at the time and his ex-girlfriend was selling her car and so he went down to California and brought it up and I bought it from her, it was a Dodge Dart, a great car, it was an old cop car and one day I was at school and he said, “oh, I saw the Dart the other day and I thought that’s great Gwen’s in town but then I remember you bought it.” And I was like, “really, you saw that car and you were all excited because you thought your ex-girlfriend was in town.” I went over to a friend’s house, Jeff Skinner, who owns the Tree of Shame on Sumner and I’m like, “I have to do something. I can’t have this car look like that.” So my first car, I painted it bright orange and we glued AstroTurf to the top of it so it had green all over the top of it. It was fun because I worked at Powell’s and I’d come downtown and one time when I was at school downtown somebody glued a bunch of animals to the top of it so it looked like a little forest, it looked like a little farm, a bunch of those blew off because they didn’t use very good glue. And another time, I was downtown working by Blitz brewery and I came out from work and I’m like, “what the hell is on top of my car” and someone had cut out what looked like a putting green and they had a flag sticking up and there was a little golf ball on top it and it was on top of my car and there was nobody around. This was so weird. So that ran for a really long time and then I killed it by running out of oil. I had another one that was a Chevy Nova—glued glass all to the side, that was bright blue and then I had astro turf on the top of that but it was a blue and black AstroTurf and that lasted a long time ‘cause it was a Chevy Nova as my friend said you know they call those “No Goes” down in Mexico. It finally died. I didn’t have one for a while, but the one I have now, The Trophy Wife, the car was just trashed it was trashed. He bought it from the original owner and he ended up, you know, taking it to one of these title places and he needed two hundred dollars so he was like, “do you want to buy this for two hundred dollars?” I’m like sure. It was maroon and it was just ugly. I wasn’t sure what I was going do with it but that’s the whole idea, you buy a really ugly car and make it look pretty. A friend of mine, a good friend of mine who died in 2009, Tom Kennedy, saw the car and he was like, “you know this would look so cool if you cut the top off and you had fins on the back. I was like “really, I can’t cut the top off” and he was like, “yeah you can.” I said we live in Oregon. He was like, “So what.”So that’s what happened. Although Tom died before we were ever able to get the fins on it. And that’s where that last one came from and it’s one of my other cars, the Nova, I had, I had gone to, have you heard of Scrap? So I had gone there when they were on Broadway and they had all these bowling trophies and she said, “as many as you can fit in a bag for 10 dollars.” I was like, “okay.” So I got them home and now I have 50 bowling trophies, they were all kinds of trophies, but I was like, I’m just going to put them on the hood of the car. So I started drilling them in and putting them on the hood of the car and then when I got the convertible–when I made the convertible, that’s when I was like, “oh this is going to be the Trophy Wife. This is the Trophy Wife.” That’s how that one came along.


I was wondering about the concept and so that inspiration came from a bag of bowling trophies? Yeah, and my Ford Nova, I had trophies on that, so I kind of started collecting them and people would give them to me because they would see them on the car and then like I said this is perfect, cut it off, paint it bright pink then kind of play on the whole trophy wife idea because at the time I wasn’t married. So it was kind of more of a joke, you know, like “hey.” I’m a little difficult to get along with so my friends joked about it like, “yeah you’re the trophy wife.”


How long did it end up taking to make? Really not that long, cutting off the top and popping out the back, we did it all within a summer like two, three months. I kind of took time, I pulled out the seats one weekend and recovered them and put them back in and everything was in stages. But I mean it would take about 3 months. I did that one, that was 2002, the summer of 2002.


Were there any more kind of adventures as far as collecting all the trophy parts? I have gone to events. Have you ever heard of Combine Demolition Derby? That’s fun. Up in Lind, Washington there’s this thing called the Combine Demolition Derby and it’s always the weekend of Father’s Day and we went to it in the late ‘90’s. Somebody was like, “oh we have to go to this.” The idea is four combines go in and they bash the hell out of each other until one of them comes out and then the ones that are left after that, because there is usually five or six heaps, go in and bash each other until somebody comes out. You can only do twelve welds per combine to alter it and the thrashers can’t be more than, I think it was, 12 or 15 inches off the ground and the thrashes don’t work. So we started going up to that and one time we were up in Ritzville and we’re at a bar and there was like three different art cars out there because we’d go up there and they wanted us to be in the parade which is fun because it’s only three blocks long and then they’d feed us pulled pork and potato salad in the park. So we’re in this bar and this guy is talking, “did you see those cars?” and we were like, “yeah, those are ours.” And he’s like, “Yeah, who’s is the trophy one?” I’m like “well, that’s mine.” He goes, “I got something. You wait here. I’m going to run home and we’re like, “really?” And he came back and he had a trophy that he won, I think it was bowling, and it was a horse’s ass. And he’s like, “will you put this on your car?” and I said, “sure let’s go out and put it on right now. “So we went out and put it on—the horse’s ass on the car. There’s been other ones every now and then friends will be like, “oh I was at this garage sale and I saw this great trophy.” I have a couple of Police Officer shooting (trophies), animals are really hard to find, bowling ones are easy but then I’ve had people that have won them, you know when they were kids and they’ve given them to me and I’m like, “sure let’s put it on.”


Well then do you have to replace them? Sometimes yeah, I do, you know the plastic ones get old and brittle so eventually they break off and then I had, what I’d call the apocalypse one year, I think it was 2012, where I came outside in the morning and somebody had broken five different trophies off and had unscrewed a bunch of other ones. So you know, it is what it is. And every now and then when I’m downtown I’ll lose one. One time I had parked downtown on Burnside and Broadway, and I was like, “man, I shouldn’t park here, I’m going to lose one and we came back and one of them was broken off and I’m like, “oh man, really and then I found it in the back seat of the car next to a PBR can that said sorry and it was a full beer and I’m like that’s really nice they accidently broke off the trophy and they left me a PBR because as you can see people can reach in and take what ever they want out of the car.

Trophy Wife 3

Photo courtesy of Marci MacFarlane

Are you part of the art car scene then? Somewhat. I’ve gone to a couple of events. My friend Victor has done a lot more of those ‘cause the Trophy Wife isn’t really a great traveller and a lot of the events take place down in San Francisco, although last summer my husband took it up to, ‘cause I had to work, he took it up to Seattle, the Fremont Fair and all the art cars go up there and it’s really great ‘cause Kelly who runs that gets donations from a lot of businesses and so they pay for you and they put you up and they feed you for like four days and you just have to park your car at the Fremont Fair on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve gone down to San Francisco for, I think it’s called “WekFest” and this next year is going to be the 10th anniversary of it. One year in 2006 we were down in San Jose outside of the San Jose art museum. They did a whole art car festival and they had a bunch of cars inside. They had the rest of us parked outside. It was a whole day thing so I’ve done a few of them. But more and more lately the car is kind of getting a little old.

Is there local activity for art cars? There used to be. There’s a lot of them in Portland and there’s a lot of them around here. We did the Hawthorne Fair one time and what they did was they did the parade and then the cars went through that and then they parked up on the side in front of the businesses along Hawthorne because they block off the street well, some of the businesses complained that too many people were crowding in front of the cars and they couldn’t get into the business and so we didn’t go back to that anymore. And then we’ve done the Alberta Street Fair, I think once or twice, and it was the same thing, the businesses were like, “the cars, the cars there’s too many people looking at the cars and they can’t get into my business.” And we tried to explain, “that’s awesome you have like twenty people standing outside your business, like now you need to get them in. We got ‘em here, you need to get ‘em in.” Haven’t done a whole lot lately although when everyone heads up to Seattle in June a lot of them stop over here because Tom Kennedy, he was a huge art car guy, he’s been an art car guy forever and his mom lives up here so everybody stops here and sees his mom because everybody knows Tom or used to.


The one last thing, I was wondering about was the type of car and then what made it a good fit to be an art car? Well, anything that’s cheap and ugly because people sell cars that are ugly for cheap and all you need is a coat of paint. I always try to get cars that I can work on or I can get something done easily. When I was down in San Francisco with the Trophy Wife a couple of years ago my alternator went out on the side of the road and it was awesome because we called a couple of places and they had what they called a Triage Van so if any of the cars broke down the Triage Van would stay with you and get you, called a place, went there, got the part, was back at the car, had it all installed in like an hour and a half to two hours. Whereas, you can’t do that nowadays. I mean you get a car nowadays you’re not going to be able to do that with the newer cars and you really need to know how to work on your car. And so I always look for the older things and especially if there’s dings or damages or stuff like that. Like the Trophy Wife, the back seat on the passenger side, I think it got hit at one point or some thing so it was having troubles opening and closing and I just finally closed it and sealed it so you can’t get in on that side, that’s all. You just crawl over the back.

Trophy Wife 1.JPG

Marci MacFarlane as the Trophy Wife

Any reactions to it? Oh people love it. I have a PA out on the front, that’s the one thing where people are like, “I don’t think we should give you a PA you have a loud enough voice as it is but I have a PA in the front of it and I pretty much try to play Wizard of Oz that’s about it. I did have Willy Wonka for a while but people didn’t recognize the songs. I got a couple of others but it just wasn’t the same but the Wizard of Oz, I mean, you drive down a street on a sunny day and everybody knows that, everybody knows all the songs, people stop, they smile, they wave and it’s just, it’s cheerful. My husband always wants to pull out and sing on the PA because I actually have a phone. Have you seen the phone in front? So it’s literally like a hand receiver like this and it’s hooked up to my PA and so you can just pick the phone up and you speak into it and if you have it on the right station and it broadcasts anything you say out the front. So he likes to sing out of the front of that. But mostly it’s just you know, it’s smiles. There’s a few times when I’ve parked downtown and I’m in a hurry and I’ll come back to the car and I’ll be like, “there’s like nine people standing there and I don’t want to get into the car and I’m not going to be able to drive away” ‘cause then they’re like, “can I take a picture of you? Can I take a picture of you? Is that your car? That’s so cool.” And I always offer to help ‘em do it to their car, like if you want to and they’re like, “what do you do when it rains?” And I’m like, “I get wet. I get wet, there’s no top. It doesn’t come back.”

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See a brief video version of this blog post:


Strapped, Baby!


If you want to grab a blogger of my ilk’s attention strap a baby doll to the front of your car. What kind of statement is attempting to be made here? I have no idea but it struck me as odd and mystifying enough for inclusion in this blog.

I noticed this first while driving the work van earlier in the week and when I went back to find the car, it was gone.  The next day I discovered it and grabbed a couple of photos.  I was surprised to find the baby’s eyes closed, but it makes sense.  If I were strapped to the front of a car, I too would close my eyes and hold on to something for dear life.


Hold tight kid, you’re in for a rough ride and it’s only the beginning!